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Elders With Chronic Pain More Likely to Suffer Falls

Last Updated: November 24, 2009.

Elderly people who have to contend with chronic pain are more likely to sustain a fall than their counterparts with little or no pain, according to a study published in the Nov. 25 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, while a study published in the Nov. 23 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine found that the use of psychotropic medications also increases the risk of falls in elderly patients.

TUESDAY, Nov. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly people who have to contend with chronic pain are more likely to sustain a fall than their counterparts with little or no pain, according to a study published in the Nov. 25 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, while a study published in the Nov. 23 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine found that the use of psychotropic medications also increases the risk of falls in elderly patients.

Suzanne G. Leveille, R.N., of the University of Massachusetts Boston, and colleagues conducted a study of 749 adults aged 70 years and above who were followed up for 18 months, and found that they sustained 1,029 falls, with an increased risk of falls among those who reported musculoskeletal pain in two or more places.

John C. Woolcott, of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and colleagues conducted a review of 22 studies on medication use among older adults, and found that those who used sedatives, hypnotics, antidepressants and benzodiazepines were at a significantly higher risk of falls than those who did not.

"Medications are identified as a preventable risk factor for falling, yet only one randomized controlled trial has looked at the impact of withdrawing medications from a population of users and the impact on falls," Woolcott and colleagues conclude. "Given the divergent results shown by some observational assessments within specific medication classes, the results of our meta-analysis reiterate the need for caution when prescribing these medications to seniors."

An author of the first study reported financial relationships with the pharmaceutical industry.

Abstract - Leveille
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Abstract - Woolcott
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