Arthur Bookman, MD, FRCPC, Senior Staff Physician, University Health Centre, Coordinator, Core Residency Rheumatology Program, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON.
Pain in the older adult is of diagnostic significance. The pattern of distribution reflects the dermatome of the same spinal root that supplies the irritated deep structure. The timing helps differentiate inflammatory and infiltrative from mechanical pathology. Certain diseases of the musculoskeletal system are seen in the older adult. These include osteoarthritis, pseudogout, gout, spontaneous osteonecrosis of the knee and polymyalgia rheumatica. Diagnosis is key to effective treatment. Although the patients in this age group are often boxed in by a series of relative contraindications to treatment, with care and perseverence, it is often possible to break open the box and find an effective therapeutic regimen.
Key words: musculoskeletal pain, arthritis, diagnosis, spinal disease, older adults.