Pain Management For Seniors

Many consider pain to be a normal part of old age, but while it is common, pain is not iStock_89232973_MEDIUMnormal. Pain is the body’s way of telling you that there is something wrong, whether that involves inflammation in the joints, tension or trauma in certain muscles, damaged nerves, or some other source.

Treatments for various ailments that cause discomfort and limit mobility usually result in prescribed medication to manage pain.

Sources of Pain

Pain can result from a variety of sources, including arthritis, surgery, cancer, trauma, poor blood circulation, cramps, or chronic disease, to name a few. The cause of pain in seniors will generally determine the route treatment will take. Again, pain is not normal, so if you or a loved one experiences chronic (occurring over the course of months) or acute pain (lasting no longer than a month), consult with a medical professional to determine the best treatment.


The greatest challenges facing seniors when it comes to pain management come mainly from the effects that age has on one’s ability to handle medications. Reduced kidney and liver mass means lower capacity for filtering drugs out of the system, while lower saliva and stomach acid production may affect one’s ability to absorb medications administered by mouth.

Additionally, any prescription drugs seniors take could interact with pain medications, making it necessary to consult with a doctor prior to taking any medicine to control pain.


Pain management may involve medications, alternative therapies, or a combination of both. Ultimately, the methods used will be based on what is causing the pain, how well the individual will be able to handle the treatment, and what other medications he or she is currently taking. Treatment methods include:

  • Analgesics, which are used for moderate pain, but can harm your liver if taken in large doses
  • NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, reduce inflammation in joints or other areas
  • Opioids, such as morphine, codeine, and oxycodone, are powerful, but have strong side effects and can be habit-forming
  • Acupuncture or acupressure, both of which are used to relieve pain in various areas of the body
  • Cognitive behavior therapy is a method used to teach seniors how to reduce their reaction to pain
  • Massage therapy, used to relieve tension in the muscles and thereby reduce pain
  • Physical therapy or exercise, which can stretch and strengthen muscles, improve immunity, and reduce pain when done correctly

When finding an assisted living, independent living, or skilled nursing facility for your loved one, it’s important to know that your loved one is in good hands and that extra measures have been taken to ensure safety. Professional care must be taken when managing pain, which is why Senior Care Centers has our own pharmacy services team to help administer medications. To learn more about our facilities and services, contact us today!

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