The Pepper Center
301 University Blvd.
Rene Przkora, MD PhD
Department of Anesthesiology
Mentor: Elena Volpi, MD, PhD
Pain management in older adults is a complex problem that is currently poorly managed. Standard of care is often an extrapolation of interventions performed in younger or middle aged patient populations, which do not reflect specific problems and concerns associated with the treatment of geriatric patients. Outcomes and potential deleterious side effects of these interventions in older patients are unknown.
Particularly important in the geriatric population is the impact of pain management on physical function. A reduction in pain may spur an increase in physical activity and function, which in turn may increase pain up to the initial level. Conversely, a pain treatment that induces sleepiness or dizziness may dramatically reduce physical activity and increase the risk of physical dependence. Thus, to determine whether a treatment has had a beneficial impact in an older adult it essential to measure not only its effect on pain, but also its effect on function and physical independence.
Based on this knowledge gap, we want to understand the differences between two commonly used pain treatment options for lumbar spondylosis causing low back and leg pain in older adults applying multiple outcome measures.
Our approach will additionally establish new and innovative outcome parameters which can be transferred to evaluate other common painful conditions in ambulatory or hospitalized older adults, placing this patient group at risk for losing function and independence.
This study is especially important given the current rapid increase in the number and proportion of older individuals with debilitating pain conditions in our society.