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How Non-pharmacological Approaches Help Manage Chronic Pain in Geriatric Patients

Chronic PainGeriatric care in Brooklyn involves using proven treatment strategies to help older adults manage their chronic pain and improve the quality of their life. Researchers at the University of California SanFrancisco (UCSF) found in a recent study that older adults with chronic pain are at an increased risk for dementia. UCSF researchers in collaboration with UCSF’s Division of Geriatrics, analyzed data from 10,000 participants aged 60 and above for a 12-year period. Those participants who reported persistent moderate to severe pain in both 1998 and 2000 showed a 9.2 percent faster memory decline and a 7.7% faster increase in dementia probability compared to those who did not report pain.

Research suggests that the greater use of opioids and other painkillers to alleviate chronic pain could be the reason for increased risk of dementia. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging healthcare providers not to prescribe opioids for pain management; instead they are recommending the administration of safe and effective non-pharmacological treatments such as physical and occupational therapy, assistive devices, or strategies, including mindfulness techniques to reduce chronic pain.

How Physical and Occupational Therapy Helps Ease Chronic Pain

Physical and occupational therapies help older adults perform their daily activities, maintain their independence, function productively and improve their well-being. Experienced pain management doctors at reliable multispecialty healthcare and rehabilitation centers in Brooklyn will first conduct a thorough review of your medical history, physical condition, and lab and diagnostic tests to understand the true cause of the pain. Depending on this consistent and efficient pain assessment, they provide customized physical and occupational therapy to reduce the chronic pain, and improve function and mobility.

In a physical therapy session, you may do more than one of these things:

  • Low-impact aerobic training – These workouts include walking, stationary bicycling, elliptical trainer or step machine and water therapy.
  • Strengthening exercises – This involves using physical therapy equipment, resistance bands, or your own body weight such as doing lunges, squats, and push-ups or working on your core muscles. These exercises help you control chronic pain by strengthening the muscles around the joints.
  • Pain relief exercises – These moves target areas where you have pain, so that you become stronger and more flexible.
  • Stretching exercises – These aregentle muscle stretching exercises and your therapist will make sure that you are warmed up and don’t stretch too far.
  • Heat and ice packs – Heat and cold application to the affected area can reduce pain. Commonly used heat and cold applications are heating pads, dry heating packs, saunas, steamed towels, moist heating packs or hot baths, ice packs or frozen gel packs, coolant sprays, ice massage and ice baths.
  • Massage – A good rub-down can ease pain and tightness in stressed, overworked muscles. It also helps enhance blood flow to sore, stiff joints and muscles.
  • TENS and ultrasound – Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) uses a device to send a low-voltage electric current to the skin on the area where you have pain. Ultrasound sends sound waves to the places you have pain. Both may offer pain relief by blocking the pain messages sent to your brain.
  • Spinal cord stimulation – Aspinal cord stimulator (SCS) device is implanted in the body to deliver electrical pulses to the spinal cord. It helps patients better manage their chronic pain symptoms and reduce the use of opioid medications.

Non-pharmacologic treatments such as physical therapy and occupational therapy help to manage chronic pain in geriatric patients, thus eliminating the need for prescription opioids and reducing the risk of dementia.

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