How can pain be managed for a 90 year old woman?
How can pain be managed for a 90 year old woman? It seems that it is either arthritis or the additional lower spine scoliosis type shape that causes excruciating pain in the mornings in the back, upper thigh area. It is impossible to get out of bed and attend to any morning routines with this pain. She is on Gabapentin 600mg/night and Tylenol #3/3x's/day but these are not providing any relief. It is so unfair to live this long and then spend the last of your time in such pain. We are concerned that any narcotic may make her dizzy and also cause constipation. We have changed primary and also seen a rheumatologist. The pain persists. If there was something to make it just manageable, this would be wonderful. The doctors have also suggested physical therapy, but she is not mobile enough to go. Is there anything that would help?
In my experience, pain can be managed for anyone at any age, if the right modalities are used. I read your letter several times, and I understand that you are concerned about narcotic usage because you are worried about constipation and dizziness in a 90 year old woman.
I want you to understand that most of the patients I care for have chronic pain conditions and are at least in their late 80's to 90's. The key to managing chronic pain in older persons is to use several different modalities in combination. This includes medications along with heat or cold applications, analgesic balms, exercises/PT, massage, and other non-drug options. The most important thing to keep in mind is that she needs to have her pain treated enough so that she can have a good quality of life.
Having a severely curved back can be painful, but this can be caused not only by arthritis, but osteoporosis as well. Osteoporosis can cause fractures in the bones of the spine itself. This leads to a profound curvature of the spine, which can make someone's posture look as if they are hunched over, and they cannot stand up straight. Or, she may have scolosis itself, which is where the back is curved in a "S" shape. There are many other painful spinal conditions that she may have that are causing her pain tooas well. Has she ever had an Xray or MRI? These tests would allow you to get a more solid diagnosis for what can be causing her pain.
You mention that she is on Tylenol #3, which has codiene in it (which is an opiate/narcotic that is VERY constipating) and Gabapentin, which is a nerve medication that can cause dizziness and fatigue. Unfortunately, these are not working for her, so she needs stronger medicatons. In my experience, codeine is usually not a great pain reliever. I would recommend having her try something like Oxycodone (5mg three times a day) with tylenol (2 tabs of the 500mg four times a day- the maximum dose) for the pain. If this is not enough, the Oxycodone dose can always be increased until her pain is better controlled. Another medication that she could try instead of Gabapentin would be Ultram (good for nerve pain), but I would not use this medication alone without an opiod, as it does not always work well by itself.
Regarding side effects of opiods/narcotics, stronger opiods do cause constipation, but this can be managed with laxatives. She should start on a good laxative (not Colace- it is a stool softener only) as soon as the opiod medication is changed, so that this side effect can be avoided. I like Senekot for a laxative, as it works well with opiod induced constipation. She can start on one tab a day, as go up as her health care provider recommends. As for dizziness, this in not really a common side effect I encounter.
As for non-drug therapies, she can also try a analgesic balm on her back like Ben Gay, Salonpas, or Aspercreme. I would massage a cream of her choice on her back in the mornings, as this is her bad time. You can try cold washcloths (put in the freezer and get them really cold but not yet frozen) or a heating pad too. Use whichever one she likes. You can apply them up to 3 times a day for 20 minutes- just make sure her skin is protected from burning. Keep in mind that some people like to take warm baths in the morning, as this can help reduce pain.
If her pain improves, I think that she would be more likely to get PT or exercise therapy. Please speak to her new doctor about trying some of my suggestions, as I think they will help. Good luck!
In response to Jennifer Serafin's answer, first let me say thank you so much for your detailed answer and your time. She has had an x-ray and the results showed Scoliosis, degenerative disc disease, and suspected vascular ectasia. The primary today prescribed oxycotin, extended release, 5mg/1x/day. Evidently, this does not come in 5mg. The doctor changed it to oxycodone 5mg 1x/day. It is my understanding from the pharmasist, that this will only last 4 hours. As discussed, she has pain 24/7. I don't feel that this is going to do it even with the addition of Tylenol 650 mg 3x/day. I was very specific with this doctor and thought I was getting a pill that would help her the entire 24 hours until the next dosage time, but....I feel that I need to change doctors as I can't seem to make myself heard and the pain is unbelievable. The report showed complete collapse of the L3-4, L4-5, and L5-S1 disc spaces with marked degenerative/sclerotic end plate changes. This sounds to me like bone on bone and that at 90 years old, she needs pain meds not a conversation about Tylenol, physical therapy and prune juice. Thanks for letting me vent on this and if there's anything else that you can add, again I would be so very appreciative Ms. Serafin. Bless you for your help.
Muscle imbalance, sounds like she has gotten to a chronic state. bones and joints are being pulled by muscles that are imbalanced. I recommend a light massage to release the fascia and continued massage till she is pain free.
to Anonymous caregiver, my mom is 90 and has same issue and has been suffering wth this for years and does take oxycodone and use heat but it persists. She can't have MRI due to pacemaker but I'll ask her doctor if there is anything else. Doesn't seem right to have to live with such pain at this stage. It's excruciating to watch and my dad died 2 months ago which has her even more depressed.
Hello all. I have read your thread about 90 yr and pain. You have painted the same picture that my 92 yo mom is experiencing. She is in so much pain, and has mild Alzheimers. The medical world discounts her, but the pain is real. I have tried the heat, the pain meds, and now getting a MRI -- finally. I am looking into deep massage therapy/ART for her. I feel bad for her and unable to do much. I am a RN and have been fighting an uphill battle with the new and improved medical approach.
My mother is in a similar situation and is the same age. She has tried everything including - physiotherapy, hot and cold therapy, chinese medicine, cortisone injections, cortisone and local anaesthetic injections, local anti-inflamatory creams and medications such as Endone and increasing doses of Oxycontin which unfortunately, brought on Angina attacks. In addition to this, she has been told to take Panadol Osteo which now turns out that if taken too regularly, can cause poisoning leading to liver and kidney failure. I have used massage but as a carer, it is very difficult to have her crying continuously due to the pain which radiates through half of her body due to muscle spasms caused from the extreme pain. I have been so desperate, I have been looking into the benefits of medical marijuana.
I, too, have to watch my 90 year old mother suffer. She has severe osteoporosis and has had several fractures. She is in constant pain, even though she takes Vicodin 2 x day, Fentanyl Patch, Neurontin, Lidoderm patch and Ativan. It breaks my heart to see her suffer. She has become suicidal and I don't know what else to do. However, I am reaching out to her doctor about legal medical marijuana. I believe it comes in a pill form. I will say a prayer for all our loved ones.
Does any of the ladies in chronic pain have an Advanced Health Care Directive asking for relief at this stage of life? It sounds to me that the medical profession want these people to suffer as long as possible for the wrong reason. Could that reason be $$$$$$$.
Unbelievable. I thought I was alone in all of this. My mother suffered severely with Osteoporosis. She took all of the above drugs you mention. I started to looking into legal medical marijuana, but the process seemed so overwhelming. She did become suicidal and told me she tried a plastic bag over head twice. I was mortified. She was in an assisted living, but her quality of life was a zero. I brought her home and put her on Hospice for palliative care. It caused her to become bed bound and on morphine, but I knew she had given up. It took five painful months to watch her deteriorate and pass away. I often worried if I did the right thing, but now that she is in peace and with my Dad I know I did. I had no other options to keep her comfortable. My heart goes out to all of you. These are the parents that sacrificed and loved and cared for us. I wish you all the best. Prayers and Blessings.
My 86 y/o mother is going through the same excrutiating pain daily. It is unbearable to watch her suffer. Not much help from the medical community, they don't know what to do and are quite restrictive in their approach to pain management with pain meds. I can hardly bear this. They won't even order an MRI, I think they want to save the insurances money and get bonuses for doing so. So sad. I don't know how to help her with this debilitating pain. She is currently in hospital and still suffering. Mom, I am so sorry you have to bear this.
for pain in elderly, hospice care is best for pain relief, for my father.
First I want to say bless you for your care & concern for this person. I care for my 89 year old mother-in-law and it feels utterly overwhelming some days. Every day she doesn't feel well and she has new things all the time--her doctor's office knows me by name and I feel like an idiot calling ALL the time.... Just wanted to tell you that we did the sennoside for constipation. We were up to 4 a day and she still wasn't going well. We had to use suppositories sometimes as well and she was having terrible cramps when she did go...We started her on Raison Bran cereal, whole wheat bread & half an apple at lunch and now she's going daily with no cramps. We took her off the senna completely. You don't want to shock someone's system if they're not used to certain foods, but if you add some stuff like this in gradually you might notice a huge difference!!!!!!!
My 93 year old Mom is going through the same thing as many of Moms in this thread. She is on pretty high dose of pain patch, plus up to 4 opiod pills a day. As of last week, she cried with new increased pain in her back. We have tried heating pad, and anti-inflammatories. She refuses to go to Dr. or get x-ray over this new increased pain in back. She also has mild to moderate dementia. Neither her regular Dr. or her pain management Dr. seem to know much. We don't know where to turn.
Try a TENS unit. You can get an Icy Hot brand for around $30 over the counter. (Target sells them over the counter in the Pharmacy area). The Icy Hot one has no wires and the device is small and snaps onto the patches. Others have wires which might be more difficult to use. The patches are re-usable for several times. It blocks the nerve impulse. I am an RN and injured my back a couple of weeks ago and this completely blocked the pain for me. It is cheap, non invasive, almost no side effects, nothing to swallow etc. Worth a try!
As we age, we lose collagen so we get prune like inside and everything hurts! Here is some relief but it will not solve the pain during weather fronts..the very top of my legs hurt, one first then the other and the docs kept say it was my back. Had one back fusion no change. 8 years later did the next fusion and it screwed up the nerves in my legs and did nothing for my hips. I started reading about trigger points and then fell into a TRIGGERPOINT DOC that says I know what you need. ROBAXIN 500 mg a pill up to 2 pills 3 times a day, ZANAFLEX 2 mg a pill up to 2 pills ONLY at night, will help you sleep, and a gout medicine called COLCHICHINE .6 mg or more found out it helps the leg pain. At the beginning, I felt I was 30 again (am 60) but it will level off but still, any pain relief is better than none. Be religious in giving the robaxin 3 times a day but when I take 2 pills and sitting on couch, short nap goes into action. If I am doing stuff, no sleepiness. Most of the older moms will have nerve pain too so get them on something, neurotin is the docs first choice but it does NOT LIKE me so make sure to keep trying the different nerve meds til there is one that is agreeable, our nerve endings prune up as well so have to find something to shut that pain signal off. For chronic all over pain, try oxycodone, methadone (this one though kills 1 out of 500 and they do not know why do be careful with methadone) get a long acting and one for break thru pain. Docs included do not understand how AWFUL pain is unless they experience it unfortunately!! Hope this helps lots of folks!
Sorry all forgot one more thing. I had read and tried and it is working for me....for whatever reason most of my cartilage has melted away, probably, not enough exercise over the years, but this gentlemen had taken 3x a day the fish omega 6-9 type with borage oil and 6 glucosamine for six months and it solved his cartilage and back pain and then he tapered off after that. Try that and see if that will help with those with back issues. Get into home remedy health, I wish I had read about all the natural healing 30 years ago! Anyone with kidney disease go check out YouTube videos on Patrick Delves, his website is getting rebuilt so not much on there. He is sooooo good, has been a master herbalist for 30 years, just punch up with an ailment with his name and you will get exactly what needs to be done to fix, example, kidney disease, he can get us back to 80% function, I'll take that percentage!!
I was encouraged to run across your website to see many others experiencing a similar thing. My 84 year mother is in severe pain all the time with scoliosis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. She takes high potent pain relieving medicines and continues in constant severe pain. She takes Gabapentin, Hydrocodone Acetaminophen 10-325, Duloxetine for fibromyalgia, prednisone - all for pain and Colace for constipation and zolpiderm to help her sleep and has had several Cortizone injections over the past several years. On top of that she's caregiver to my stepdad who has nephropathy, has been diagnosed with alzheimers, and assists him in bathing and grooming. Thirdly, she cares for their pet poodle. I have talked to her many times about getting someone in the house to help and she refuses. Her excuses always change, "I don't want a stranger in the house, it costs money, they won't be able to get him to bathe, etc. They both have excellent long term care policies that will help pay for the service.
So, what do you do when you see your mother calls every few days complaining that "he" won't bath and she hurts so much she just feels like crying and says "I don't know what to do", when I've told her time and time again to hire someone to come in and help? My mother hears but she's not listening. As my husband puts it, she's very, very, very stubborn.
Mom is 87 years old. She suffers from degenerative disk disease. The pain in her legs and back is excruciating. She is in pain medication (which she hates to take). In the last year she had to increase dose just to manage pain and to get a few hours of sleep. As result of the opioids, as expected she has to deal with issues of constipation which she manages with fiber, etc and when it gets real bad, with suppositories. She constantly using heat & cold pad to help minimize pain.
But even after her best efforts, the pain is getting worst. It is so bad that she tell me that she prays to die almost on a daily basis. Her energy level is down drastically and getting worse so much so that it is hard for her to even prepare a meal or even enjoy it (we bring her food for her for daily). She lives alone. My wife and I talked about getting her in assisted living but she refuses. Mentally she is very sharp and has a great memory.
She has many additional issues that are tough on her: kidney disease, diabetes, is on 3 liters of oxygen up to now she has done an amazing job up to keep up with all the requirements to manage them, but I am afraid the pain is now so bad that it could make it difficult for her to be as disciplined as she has been for the last 3 years going forward.
Last month we visited a pain clinic and she got an epidural. It is her 2nd one (first one 1 year ago helped some). She had high hopes it would help and had been up very upbeat but a month later the pain continues if not gotten worse.
What is there left to do when you already tried every recommendation posted here?
I want to help ease her pain but don't know what else to try.
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