New Study on Chronic Pain and Falls

Posted on December 14, 2009


Falls among older adults may be linked to chronic pain, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. This study could be significant because controlling pain could be a way potential way to decrease the amount of falls among people ages 70 and over.

The study, headed by Dr. Suzanne G. Leveille, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and the University of Massachusetts, looked at 749 people, ages 70 and older. They asked participants if they suffered from any pain, and 40 percent said they suffered from pain in more than one joint while 24 percent said they had pain in only one joint. They also asked the participants to keep a record of every time they fell.

For 18 months, participants recorded their falls on postcards, which were mailed monthly to the study center. During that time, 1,029 falls were recorded. Those who had pain in more than one joint were more likely to have fallen than those who had no pain. Having pain in one month also made a person more likely to fall in the following month.

The findings suggest that older adults might be able to prevent falls with effective pain management, according to the article about the study by HealthDay news service.

“If we look at the population as a whole, the number of people with pain is significant…This study shows that addressing this pain early is not only preventative in nature, but cost-effective, as the long-term costs associated with falls is significant,” Colin Milner, chief executive officer of the International Council on Active Aging, told HealthDay.

This study could change the way doctors and patients view pain, as not just something that occurs with age, but as something that needs to be treated in order to decrease the risk for falls.

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Posted in: Health, Research