Conan Kornetsky, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA.
There is a common belief, supported by considerable experimental reports, that the aged have higher pain thresholds than the young and are more responsive to the analgesic actions of opiate drugs. To a considerable degree this belief shapes pain treatment in aged adults. This article reviews the evidence for this belief and discusses why there is often a disparity between the reported alleviation of pain in older adults and the widely held belief that these individuals receive inadequate pain management. Among the issues discussed is the amount of control the patient really has in patient-controlled analgesia.
Key words: pain, aged, analgesia, pain measurement, morphine.