Pain and Alzheimer's disease

September 6, 2017 by Meredith Jackson, Vanderbilt University

For people with Alzheimer's disease (AD), pain that interferes with daily activities may be more common than people with AD typically report.

This is the major implication of a study by Jinjiao Wang, Ph.D., R.N., Todd Monroe, Ph.D., R.N., and colleagues published recently in the journal Aging and Mental Health.

The Brief Pain Inventory-Short Form was administered as a structured pain interview to examine pain interference in 52 communicative adults with AD who were at least 65 years old and who reported being free from requiring daily pain medication.

The interview detected an increased risk of pain interference as well as symptoms of depression in approximately 20 percent of respondents. Those with better cognitive function reported more pain interference and , suggesting that pain is likely to be under-reported as AD progresses.

Clinicians should regularly assess pain interference and depressive symptoms in people with AD to identify pain that might be otherwise overlooked, the researchers concluded. Using a structured interview may help.

Explore further: Can pain increase the risk of dying early?

More information: Jinjiao Wang et al. Pain interference and depressive symptoms in communicative people with Alzheimer's disease: a pilot study, Aging & Mental Health (2017). DOI: 10.1080/13607863.2017.1318258

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