When to Talk to Your Doctor About Pain


March 25, 2022

Older adults are more likely to suffer from pain problems. Studies reveal that approximately 92% of them live with at least one chronic condition. As a result, they underreport pain as they see it as part of aging.

While we can associate some uncomfortable sensations in the body with age, it reaches a point when you must seek professional help. 

So, when should you speak to your doctor about pain? Find out more below!

What Types of Pain do Adults Experience?

Various factors can cause pain in older adults. For instance, you’re more likely to suffer from several conditions simultaneously as you age. 

Although it can be difficult at times and often require medical diagnosis, understanding the cause of your pain is essential. Sometimes, identifying the type of pain you’re suffering from helps you know whether you need to see a doctor or not. 

Here are some types of pain older adults are likely to experience.

  • Osteoarthritis back pain ( occurs mainly in the lower back and neck)
  • Musculoskeletal pain
  • Peripheral neuropathic pain ( typically due to postherpetic neuralgia or diabetes)
  • Chronic joint pain

When To Talk to a Doctor About Pain

While most older adults become accustomed to pain, it’s crucial to speak to a doctor once it reaches a particular stage. So, when should you seek professional help?

If You Experience Severe or Intense Pain

You should speak to a doctor if you experience severe pain that causes intense suffering. For instance, if you’re suffering from back pain, speak to a doctor if;

  • You experience discomfort, numbness, or weakness
  • High fever
  • Pain appears suddenly
  • Pain creeps on gradually
  • The pain results from a severe blow or a fall

If Your Pain Worsens

Sometimes you may experience pain that goes away after a short period or when you use over-the-counter medication. However, if the pain lasts longer than 72 hours, you should talk to your doctor.

If Your Pain Disrupts Daily Life

Some older adults are tolerant of pain because they believe it’s part of aging. But sometimes, the pain can interfere with their daily lives (or even their caregivers). For example, it can affect your mood, sleep, working, or self-care. 

As a result, victims tend to suffer from anxiety and emotional distress. Therefore, if pain disrupts your daily life, it’s best to speak to your doctor.

If You Depend on Over-the-Counter Medications

Over-the-counter medications can provide short-term pain relief to older adults. However, they shouldn’t be your daily dose. 

Over-the-counter pain reliever use comes with certain risks, including potential misuse or abuse, incorrect self-diagnosis, and increased drug-drug interaction risk. If you can’t go a day without pain relievers, speak to a doctor.

Key Takeaway

Older adults experience different types of pain resulting from various conditions. However, you should speak to your doctor when the pain is severe, worsens, or disrupts your daily life. If you’re experiencing pain, contact us by filling out this form.

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