PAIN MANAGEMENT: Managing pain in older people

Pharmacists are a vital member of the multidisciplinary team (MDT) supporting older people to manage their pain. The pharmacist is uniquely positioned to
holistically review drug interactions and potential risks associated with each patient’s medication and has the expertise to suggest alternative treatment options
to reduce the risks associated with polypharmacy or unwanted side effects caused by other medications.

Chronic pain

The International Association for the Study of Pain defines pain as an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated
with, actual or potential tissue damage.

Although universally experienced by everyone, the perception of pain is a deeply personal experience influenced by biological, psychological, and social factors, and
constitutes an essential behavioural feedback mechanism aimed at protecting us from harm.

Pain may be perceived as either acute or chronic. Chronic pain, defined as pain that persists longer than the normal healing time, constitutes a substantial
healthcare burden, affecting approximately 20 per cent of people worldwide and accounts for 15–20 per cent of physician consultations.

Chronic pain is often associated with disrupted mood and sleep, substance misuse and other chronic conditions. Additionally, comorbidities of chronic pain may also
lead to complex medication regimens that increase the risks of adverse drug interactions and unwanted side effects.