New Paper: Pain and Aging

We have a new paper looking at patterns of pain as you age with a physical disability. In this paper, we looked at both pain severity or how bad your pain is as well as pain interference or how much pain gets in the way with your life. We looked at both types of pain in a large group of people with a physical disability by age groups (18 – 34 year olds, 35 – 44 year olds, 45 – 55 year olds, 55 – 64 year olds, 65 – 74 year olds, and 75 years or older). We compared the reports of pain from people with a physical disability to a large group of people in the same age groups who didn’t have a disability.  Overall, in every age group young or old, we found that people with a physical disability rated both their pain severity and interference higher than people without a physical disability.

We observed a different pattern in pain for people with a physical disability. Pain ratings peaked in the middle-ages, dropped a bit, but remained high in the older age groups.  In the comparison group, people without a physical disability, pain ratings typically dropped and continued to drop in the older age groups.

This is new and important information that can help guide the health care of people aging with a physical disability. If you are experiencing chronic pain that gets in the way with your life, talk to your health care provider about treatment options. Don’t put off getting help for your pain. You may find this fact sheet on pain in MS helpful, as the treatment options apply to other disability groups.