By Richard W. Besdine, M.D.
"Pain is a more terrible lord of mankind than even death itself."
– Physician and humanitarian Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965)
When you’re in pain, nothing else seems to matter. And if you’re an older adult, you are not only more likely to have pain, but also to get less help for it than younger people are.
Chronic pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined, and is the top-cited reason for seeking medical care. The relief of pain is the heart and soul of health care. And while always unwelcome, pain often has an important role to play. It can provide a warning that something is wrong, such as infection or undiagnosed disease. It is sometimes called the "fifth vital sign," as essential as temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate, for assessing health status.