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Pain Research and Management
Volume 13 (2008), Issue 5, Pages 389-394
Original Article

Pain Characteristics of Adults 65 Years of Age and Older Referred to a Tertiary Care Pain Clinic

Angela Mailis-Gagnon,1,2,3 Keith Nicholson,1,3 Balaji Yegneswaran,1,3 and Mateusz Zurowski1,3

1Comprehensive Pain Program, Toronto Western Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
2Krembil Neuroscience Centre, Toronto Western Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
3University of Toronto Centre for the Study of Pain, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Copyright © 2008 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: Reports indicate that characteristics of older adults with chronic pain may be different than those of younger persons.

OBJECTIVE: To study the pain characteristics of older patients presenting to a tertiary pain clinic for the first time.

METHODS: Age, sex and relative contributions of biomedical versus psychosocial variables contributing to chronic pain were investigated in patients 65 years of age and older, in comparison with younger patients, from a sample of 1242 consecutive new patients attending a tertiary care pain clinic. The presence of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision somatoform pain disorders were defined, using an explicated method of ascertaining the biomedical and psychological variables underlying the pain complaints.

RESULTS: The older patients (14.7% of the total sample) had relatively more physical problems (concordant with their complaints) but fewer psychological factors contributing to disability than the younger pain patients. Musculoskeletal and neuropathic disorders affected 40.7% and 35.2% of the older patients, respectively, while several patients had more than one painful disorder. Musculoskeletal problems were more prevalent in the women, and neuropathic problems were more prevalent in the men.

CONCLUSIONS: The older pain patients are a distinct group. Factors affecting the delayed presentation of older pain patients to the pain clinic and limitations of the present study are discussed.