Managing Pain

Author: Tami Rogers

| Published on: May,29 | Viewed: 2462 times


Over 65% of seniors, whether living alone or at a senior community, aren’t living life to the fullest because of pain related to a variety of illnesses and health complications. 

If you or someone you love is suffering with pain, you know how debilitating that can be. The truth is none of us, even if we’re 55 or older, should be expected to live that way. Many people don’t say anything to their doctor or loved ones because they feel it is just part of getting older. That is a myth. The truth is, there are many options for reducing or even eliminating pain.

Types of Pain Treatment

While there are many types of pain, there are also many ways to manage it. After discussing your pain with your doctor, there are many different options and treatments he or she can recommend. Here are some the National Institute of Aging suggests. 

  • Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen (medications like Tylenol) can be good for all types of mild to moderate pain. It is non-habit forming and is found in both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription pain relievers. It is important to talk to your doctor about how much you are taking daily as it can cause liver disease at high doses.

  • Non steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs

These drugs (NSAIDS) include aspirin medications, naproxen and ibuprofen. Some common NSAIDS are Motrin, Aleve and Advil. NSAIDS can be particularly effective with muscle or arthritis pain.

NSAIDS can cause unwanted side effects like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, dizziness, headache or allergic reactions. More serious side effects can occur such as kidney or liver failure, ulcers and prolonged bleeding after injury or surgery. If you have had high blood pressure, a heart condition or a stroke in the past, NSAIDS can be dangerous. They are better used for a limited time in limited doses. Consult your doctor before taking them.

  • Narcotics

Narcotics, also known as opioids, should be used for severe pain and require a doctor’s prescription. They can be habit forming and not taken for a long period of time. Examples of opioids are codeine, morphine and oxycodone. Side effects can include constipation, sleepiness and nausea.

You need to be careful with all pain medication. As we age, we are at a higher risk for serious side effects so it is important to take the exact amount your doctor prescribes or recommends. Mixing any pain medication with alcohol or other drugs can be dangerous. Make sure your doctor is aware of all the medications you take, including over-the-counter ones.

Other Treatments That Can Help With Pain

Rather than turning to drugs, many seniors pain from alternative methods. Here are some methods commonly used:

  • Acupuncture uses hair-thin needles to stimulate specific points on the body to relieve pain

  • Biofeedback helps you learn how to control your heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension, which can relieve stress and lower pain levels

  • Cognitive behavior therapy is a type of short-term counseling that can reduce your reaction to pain

  • Electrical Nerve Stimulation uses electric impulses to relieve pain

  • Hypnosis uses focused attention to help manage pain

  • Massage therapy can release tension in tight muscles

  • Physical therapy can teach you techniques to manage everyday activities with less pain while improving flexibility and strength

  • Gentle Yoga has also helped many people relieve aches and pains

Helping Yourself With Lifestyle Changes

There are many things you can do in your day-to-day life that can help reduce pain. Here are some suggestions from the National Institute of Aging.

  • Keep your weight down. Extra weight can slow healing and make pain worse in places like back, hips, knees and feet.

  • Exercise. Try to keep moving because mild exercise can help. Being inactive can get you into a cycle of more pain and loss of function.

  • Get enough sleep.

  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco and caffeine. They can have a negative impact on treatment and increase pain.

  • Join a pain support group.  It can be very helpful to talk to others and see how they deal with pain. 

About Tami Rogers

Tami Rogers is a mom, award winning writer, passionate chef, blogger and frequent contributor to Seniorly and other sites dedicated to seniors and aging well. She also writes for parenting magazines and websites focused on the emotional well being of teens.

Other Articles written by Tami Rogers

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