Knee pain in older woman at home

Chronic musculoskeletal (MSK) pain is a top cause of disability and functional impairment among older adults. In a new review of clinical trials, physician specialists recommend their top picks for treating this condition, and a multicomponent approach.

The authors hail from a variety of institutions and disciplines such as neurology, palliative care and internal medicine. In the review, they present data on nine high-quality, peer-reviewed clinical trials focused on MSK pain management in older adults. The trials were published mostly within the last two years, and each has substantial potential to impact clinical care delivered to older adults with MSK pain, the doctors concluded.

For example, insomnia was shown to be a modifiable target that contributes to chronic musculoskeletal pain and treatment strategies that target better sleep may be a pathway to improving pain, the reviewers noted. Another study found that intramuscular glucocorticoids shots may be just as effective as more invasive joint injections for knee osteoarthritis. 

Another trial with actionable possibilities highlighted an artificial intelligence-driven cognitive behavioral therapy program that included potential teletherapy appointments as an effective treatment for chronic back pain.

“Although evidence gaps remain, especially among the oldest-old population, the summarized studies begin to address these gaps with respect to chronic MSK pain in aging adults,” the researchers wrote. “Approaching MSK pain using multiple modalities and acknowledging its biopsychosocial underpinnings are vital to improving patient-related outcomes,” they concluded.

Full findings were published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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