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Pain management guidelines launched

Published on 17 April 2013 10:30 AM

More should be done to recognise and treat pain in older people, according to the authors of new guidelines on pain management.

The British Pain Society and the British Geriatrics Society have teamed up to launch the first guidelines on the management of pain in older people in Britain.


There is a lack of previous studies on pain management in older people. The aim of the new guidelines is to make health professionals aware that the bio-physiological changes that come with ageing, the build up of co-morbidities and co-prescription of medication, frailty and psycho-social changes mean pain should be treated differently in older patients.

The British Geriatrics Society and British Pain Society have delivered the recommendations on the back of a thorough systematic review of the information available to help health professionals, who have been encouraged to weigh up alternatives when treating pain in older people.

The guidelines are broken down into sections that focus on pharmacology, interventional therapies, psychological interventions, physical activity and assistive devices, and complementary therapies.

Older people often don't say when they're in pain

Professor Pat Schofield, who chaired the group that delivered the guidelines, said for whatever reason, older people do not always inform people when they are in pain, while health professionals do not always know how to treat pain when they do report it.

'Treatment is often limited to prescribing basic medication and is seldom tailored to an individual. National guidance on the management of pain in older people is long overdue and these evidence-based clinical guidelines are an important step towards improving quality of life for older people by focusing attention on a range of appropriate pain relief options and interventions,' he said.

British Geriatrics Society president Professor Paul Knight hailed the guidelines as a step in the right direction and has encouraged health professionals to act on the recommendations. He wants it to act as a springboard for more research to look into the benefits of different pain control treatments for older patients.

'As the fastest-growing segment of our population, older people should be involved in scientific research and included in clinical trials of medications and interventions, as a matter of course,' he said.

Copyright Press Association 2013

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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