Friday, September 18, 2009

Chronic Pain of Baby Boomers Make Them Feel Like Octogenarians

Chronic Pain Makes 50-year-olds Feel 80

By LiveScience Staff

posted: 16 September 2009 11:28 am ET

People who suffer chronic pain tend to have general physical
capabilities similar to those decades older, a new study finds.

Scientists re-examined data from a 2004 study of 18,531 people age 50
and over. As one example, among participants age 50 to 59 who had no
chronic pain, 37 percent could jog a mile and 91 percent could walk
several blocks with no trouble. Among those with chronic pain, only 9
percent could jog the mile and only half managed the walking task.

"We found that the abilities of those aged 50 to 59 with pain were far
more comparable to subjects aged 80 to 89 without pain, of whom 4
percent were able to jog 1 mile and 55 percent were able to walk several
blocks, making pain sufferers appear 20 to 30 years older than non-pain
sufferers," said study leader Kenneth Covinsky of the Division of
Geriatrics at the University of California, San Francisco.

Chronic pain is a huge problem for middle-aged and older adults. In fact
24 percent of the people in the study suffered from moderate to severe
pain most of the time. About 75 million U.S. residents endure chronic or
recurrent pain, other studies have found. Migraines plague 25 million of
us. One in six suffer arthritis.

While pain is poorly understood, many experts now recommend physical
exercise to combat many types of chronic pain, in addition to medication
in some cases.

"Our study cannot determine whether pain causes disability or whether
disability causes pain," Covinsky said. "We think it is likely that both
are true and that pain and disability probably can act together in ways
that make both problems worsen in a downward spiral."

The findings, announced today, are detailed in the Journal of the
American Geriatric Society.

The research suggests pain and disability may often be part of the same
underlying process. "Patients may be better served if pain and
disability are evaluated and treated jointly rather than treated as
separate issues," Covinsky said.

http://www.livescie 090916-chronic- pain.html

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