Does Pain Make You Age Faster?

by Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, MS-PREP student and PREP-AIRED blog moderator
A recent study based on analysis of data from the 2004 Health and Retirement Study suggests pain hastens the aging process with respect to functional limitations at a younger age.
The study, published in the September issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, examined a sample of individuals age 50 and older living in the community. The mean age of the sample was 65. Participants who said they had significant pain — 24% of the 18,531 people surveyed — had functional limitations roughly equivalent to those of a person two to three decades older. One of the study’s authors, Kenneth E. Covinsky, MD, MPH, University of California San Francisco, wrote, “So, a 50-year-old in pain functions on the level of a 70-year-old who does not have daily pain”.
The authors of the study stated that the cross-sectional design of the study did not allow them to determine if “pain is causing functional limitations or whether functional limitations are causing pain, but it seems likely that the relationship is bidirectional.” But since the relationship appears to be powerful the study’s authors concluded that taking a more unified approach to addressing pain and function in the community setting versus only in geriatric settings may prove beneficial.

1 comment September 24th, 2009


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