Chronic joint pain trips up senior citizens

LOS ANGELES Being unable to keep your balance is quite normal as you get older. Both Loretta Slover and her husband George have taken falls. But it's not just age causing problems for Loretta, it's also her chronic joint pain.

"The achiness is just very uncomfortable so that you know you are aware of it much too much no matter what else you are supposed to be doing," said study participant Mrs. Slover.

In a report provided by the Journal of the American Medical Association, University of Massachussetts researchers say achy joints aren't just uncomfortable they can lead to debilitating falls. Researchers asked participants to record their falls and their pain levels.

"Chronic pain whether it was measured in terms of number of locations, severity of pain or how disabling the pain was, chronic pain was associated with an increased likelihood of falling in older adults," said lead researcher Suzanne G. Leveille, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and the University of Massachusetts.

Leveille says this is the first study to examine the connection. Participants reported more than a 1,000 falls in 18 months.

"Paying closer attention to the problems such as pain and falls could result in better health and help people to continue to live actively and independently in the community," said Leveille.

Mrs. Slover wants to continue live independently.

"I like getting up in my own house from my own bed, with my own sheets, the way I like them," said Mrs. Slover. "I like going down to my own kitchen, making coffee the way I like it at the time I want to do it."

Researchers hope the elderly will take this information and discuss chronic pain issues with their family and health care professionals. The goal would be to work out a plan to better manage their pain.

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