Sep 8, 2011, 12:19 PM
Post #1 of 1
I ran across an interesting statistic last week: nearly half of all people over the age of 60 suffer from chronic pain. Chronic pain is defined as that experienced from any condition for a period in excess of three months. No wonder I observe so many elderly people showing obvious difficulty, either in their gait or in their body language.
Effective pain management: the new frontier
There are some really exciting and awesome developments in the area of pain management currently under way and these arenít happening a moment too soon, as chronic pain tends to exert a real and serious negative impact on those who suffer, as well as on their families and friends. Chronic pain affects everything from oneís earnings to oneís ability to enjoy the benefits of living well. Itís responsible for depression and has been shown to have an actual physiological effect on brain function. In tests run at McGill University in Montreal, scientists have demonstrated that chronic severe pain actually causes a thinning or lessening of the gray matter in the brain and causes the brain to have to work harder on any given task.
Up until recently much of pain management involved taking mild analgesics, such as Aspirin, Tylenol, Advil and various other drugs available over the counter. More severe pain was treated with a stronger set of drugs given by prescription, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Celebrex and Voltaren, corticosteroids, like prednisone and cortisone, and opiate drugs that include morphine and codeine.
Problem with these drugs was that the side effects are often more harmful than the pain theyíre designed to treat. For instance, NSAIDs were implicated in increases in heart disease and damage to stomach walls, while steroid drugs are responsible for osteoporosis. Opiate drugs such as oxycontin or percocet tend to present a significant risk of developing dependence, which is why they are only recommended for short-term use to treat certain types of fairly severe pain.
Finally, there are several non-drug therapies that have shown promise, including biofeedback, hypnosis and acupuncture, all of which have shown miraculous results with some people suffering from chronic pain conditions, albeit these are not effective for everyone.
Whatís needed are new forms of treatment that are more effective than whatís currently available for the treatment of chronic pain and that have fewer negative side effects. One truly promising substance is opiorphin, a derivative of human saliva, which is said to be up to six times more effective in treating chronic pain than morphine!
In an article in The New Scientist (Nov. 13, 2006) researchers have lauded the substance as a very successful pain blocker. In fact, scientists believe that opiorphin may also be used as a very powerful anti-depressant, according to Catherine Rougeot of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France.
As the population over the age of 60 increases steadily, finding new cures for chronic pain is a timely and welcome development, given that so many individuals in this age cohort tend to suffer from a plethora of painful conditions, including arthritis and joint deterioration. Having access to proper pain management tools could make the difference between a happy and a miserable retirement.
Klaus Rohrich is President and Creative Director of Taylor/Rohrich Associates Inc., a marketing and advertising firm that specializes in niche marketing retirement real estate developments