Tag Archives: pain

Yoga for older adults beneficial for more than pain

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in Kaiser Health News, The Atlantic.com, New America Media, AARP.com and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health, Media & Policy at Hunter College in New York City, and co-produces HealthStyles for WBAI-FM/Pacifica Radio.

Photo: KW Knitters Guild via Flickr

Chronic pain is a Catch-22 for many older adults. More than half of community-dwelling adults over age 65, and up to 80 percent of nursing home residents, suffer from persistent pain.

Exercise can improve flexibility, strength and mobility, but many people don’t exercise because it’s painful. That leads to a downward spiral of social isolation, depression, further withdrawal and increasing disability. Only 14.8 percent of adults 65 to 74 years and 7.9 percent of adults 75 years and older met both aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity guidelines in 2012 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Continue reading

New tip sheet gives guidance for reporting on opioid use among the aging

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in Kaiser Health News, The Atlantic.com, New America Media, AARP.com and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health, Media & Policy at Hunter College in New York City, and co-produces HealthStyles for WBAI-FM/Pacifica Radio.

Photo: Sharyn Morrow via Flickr

Photo: Sharyn Morrow via Flickr

Opioid addiction is at crisis levels in the United States. Over two million people are addicted to opioids, which include prescription painkillers, heroin and morphine. The total number of opioid pain relievers prescribed in the U.S. has skyrocketed in the past 25 years.

Data from the American Society of Pain Medicine (ASPM) indicate that of the 21.5 million Americans age 12 years or older who had a substance use disorder in 2014, 1.9 million involved prescription pain relievers.

The trend has led to more emergency department admissions and a tripling of overdose deaths. Continue reading

While heroin use grabs headlines, don’t forget coverage of prescription pain meds

Susan Heavey

About Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey, (@susanheavey) a Washington, D.C.-based journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on social determinants of health and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on resources and tip sheets at determinants@healthjournalism.org.

Recent Associated Press coverage of opioid pain medications, combined with new government data, serve as a reminder that opioids continue to be a scourge for public health officials looking to tamp down misuse of the drugs.

They help highlight the need for reporters not to lose sight of the ongoing efforts to control these powerful pills even as rising heroin use captures more of the headlines. Continue reading

UK study: Sleep quality is a strong predictor of chronic pain

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in Kaiser Health News, The Atlantic.com, New America Media, AARP.com and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health, Media & Policy at Hunter College in New York City, and co-produces HealthStyles for WBAI-FM/Pacifica Radio.

Image by Tobyotter via flickr.

Image by Tobyotter via flickr.

Non-restorative sleep is the strongest, independent predictor of widespread pain onset among adults over the age of 50, according to a new study in Arthritis & Rheumatology. Researchers in the United Kingdom found anxiety, memory impairment and poor physical health among older adults may also increase the risk of developing widespread pain.

Chronic pain affects more than 100 million Americans at a cost topping $600 billion annually, according to the Alliance for Aging Research. Musculoskeletal pain is more prevalent as people age, with up to 80 percent of people 65 years of age and older experiencing daily pain. Widespread pain that affects multiple areas of the body – the hallmark feature of fibromyalgia – affects 15 percent of women and 10 percent of men over age 50 according to previous studies. While there is no cure for chronic pain, several studies suggest that exercise and Vitamin D supplements may be beneficial. Continue reading

Experts with ties to drugmakers promoted prescribing opiates to older patients

Judith Graham

About Judith Graham

Judith Graham (@judith_graham), is a freelance journalist based in Denver and former topic leader on aging for AHCJ. She haswritten for the New York Times, Kaiser Health News, the Washington Post, the Journal of the American Medical Association, STAT News, the Chicago Tribune, and other publications.

Should older adults use powerful narcotics for ongoing pain relief?

This is a much-debated topic in geriatric circles. Last week, it burst into the public sphere with an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and MedPage Today by John Fauber and Ellen Gabler.

Their story focuses on a 2009 recommendation by the American Geriatrics Society that physicians consider prescribing opiates more often to seniors with moderate to severe pain.

Potential conflicts of interest may have compromised the Geriatric Society’s guidelines, Fauber and Gabler discovered. Five of 10 panel members who prepared the report had financial ties with opiate drugmakers and a sixth member began serving as a speaker for a drug company in the following year.

In another disturbing finding, Fauber and Gabler reveal that a pain guide endorsed by the Geriatrics Society and funded by an opioid drugmaker highlighted benefits of narcotics while downplaying risks – the potential for addiction, cognitive problems, overdosing, falls and fractures, and the enhancement rather than diminishment of pain.

“None of these side effects was included” in the document; instead, it claimed that “opioids allow people with chronic pain to get back to work, run and play sports,” they write.

The Geriatrics Society told the reporters that it stands behind the guide and is “deeply concerned that public policy may create barriers that will limit older adults’ access to pain medicine.”

In a sidebar, Fauber and Gabler examine a related issue in this controversy: the contention that alternatives to opioids – common over-the-counter drugs such as Aleve, Advil and Motrin – can have more deleterious health effects than narcotics. Continue reading