Pittsburgh / Allison Park Senior Care Blog

Can Pain Be Managed Without Drugs?

By Amy Felman

Many older adults live with chronic pain. In fact, there are around 50 million adults in the United States who suffer from chronic pain. Older adults are even more likely to have pain that originates from more than one source. For example, they may have osteoarthritis as well as nerve damage from conditions like diabetes. There are many ways to manage chronic pain. Often, older adults will be prescribed pain killing drugs. Unfortunately, sometimes they aren’t effective. However, researchers continue to look into ways to manage pain without drugs.

Pain Management Research

One of the problems doctors encounter when trying to treat chronic pain is that pain is subjective. There is no way for doctors to know what a patient is feeling. Instead, they must rely on the patient’s description of the pain. Researchers are working on developing technologies that will help doctors to better understand pain. One technology is using artificial intelligence to determine how a patient feels based on their facial expressions. Others are using sensors to detect certain processes that occur when the body is in pain. Objective pain assessment techniques will help doctors to develop standard treatment plans based on pain levels.

Another issue that researchers are focusing on is how the mind can affect pain. Scientists believe that when people worry about feeling pain it makes pain worse. So, it may be possible to train people to use their minds to stop pain simply by educating them about how pain works. In one study, researchers taught participants with back and neck pain about the physiology of pain. Then, they encouraged them to take up activities they had been avoiding because of the pain. When they compared the participants to patients in a control group, they found that those who were educated about pain had less pain and were able to function better.

Other Ways to Manage Chronic Pain

Experts at the Mayo Clinic suggest that making certain lifestyle changes can help with managing chronic pain. Some of the things they suggest are:

  • Reduce Stress: Help your aging relative to recognize what triggers stress for them. Then, help them to avoid those triggers or learn ways to manage them, such as meditation and deep breathing.
  • Physical Activity: 30 to 45 minutes of low-intensity exercise can help to reduce pain. However, check with the older adult’s doctor before they begin a new exercise program.
  • Sleep: Pain can make it hard to sleep, but getting enough sleep is important for managing pain. Assisting your aging relative to follow good sleep habits, like avoiding caffeine before bed, sticking to a sleep schedule, and making the bedroom comfortable and calming.

Senior care can assist older adults living with chronic pain to better manage it. If your aging relative is taking medications for pain, a senior care provider can remind them when it is time to take the medicine. They can also monitor the older adult to make sure they do not take too much. Senior care providers can also help your family member to be more active, such as by taking walks with them or driving them to exercise classes.

Sources

https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2018/pain-management-without-prescriptions.html?intcmp=AE-HP-TOT-POS1-REALPOSS-TODAY
https://www.mayoclinic.org/lifestyle-strategies-for-pain-management/art-20208639

If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring senior care in Wexford, PA, please call the caring staff at Home Helpers. Call today (412) 364-4663.