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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


eISSN: 1643-3750

Prevalence of Chronic Pain, Particularly with Neuropathic Component, and Its Effect on Overall Functioning of Elderly Patients

Małgorzata Stompór, Tomasz Grodzicki, Tomasz Stompór, Jerzy Wordliczek, Marzena Dubiel, Iwona Kurowska

Department of Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery, Medical Faculty, Collegium Medicum, University of Warmia and Masuria, Olsztyn, Poland

Med Sci Monit 2019; 25:2695-2701

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.911260

Available online: 2019-04-12

Published: 2019-04-12


BACKGROUND: The prevalence of chronic pain among the elderly is high (estimated at 25–85%) and may adversely affect their everyday functioning, although it is often unrecognized.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of chronic pain, especially with the neuropathic component, and its effect on overall functioning of elderly patients. We enrolled 145 subjects older than 60 years (nursing home residents, or patients of outpatient geriatric clinic). Information on co-morbidities, functional and mental status, and medications was obtained using a questionnaire. Chronic pain was defined as lasting >3 months and the presence of neuropathic component was detected using the DN4 Questionnaire (Douleur Neuropathique en Questions).
RESULTS: The mean age of patients was 76±9.68 years. Chronic pain was reported by 78% of participants and 32% reported neuropathic pain with neuropathic component (DN4 score ≥4 points). Patients complaining of chronic pain significantly more often presented mood disorders and lower satisfaction with life (particularly those with the highest pain intensity), with no difference in functional status according to the ADL (Activities of Daily Living) tool. Participants with chronic pain were treated with paracetamol (45%), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (25%), and opioids (24%).
CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of chronic pain, particularly with neuropathic component, in the elderly population seems to be higher than expected based on previous reports, and its treatment appears to be ineffective. This problem requires further research and dissemination of knowledge on the diagnosis and treatment of chronic pain among health care workers caring for elderly patients on a daily basis.

Keywords: chronic pain, Frail Elderly, Neuralgia, Nursing Homes