Q. Is pain a necessary part of aging?
It is very difficult to avoid physical pain as you get older. However, as many people age, they complain less about pain. This phenomenon may be caused by a decreased sensitivity to pain. However, some believe that seniors don't moan as much as juniors because they tend to be stoics.
People have a variety of inborn pain thresholds. I have two granddaughters who are so different in their ability to handle pain that it is almost comical. I've seen one of them tumble off a bike, skin her knee and climb back in the saddle without a whimper. The other little girl will cry inconsolably over the smallest splinter.
The ability to withstand pain depends upon emotion, too. Athletes have played with broken bones because they were so pumped up by the action around them that they didn't know they'd been injured. Later, in the locker room, the pain kicked in.
Pain may be acute or chronic. Acute pain comes on suddenly and subsides after a short time. Chronic pain persists. Many seniors suffer from chronic pain, which has a variety of causes.
Pain affects as much as 65 percent of independent older adults and up to 80 percent of seniors in long-term care facilities. The following are some of the causes:
About 80 percent of older adults suffer from osteoarthritis, inflammation of the joints.
You get osteoarthritis when cartilage the cushioning tissue within the joints wears down. This produces stiffness and pain. You can get it in any joint, but it usually strikes those that