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Mayo Clin Proc. 2010 Mar;85(3 Suppl):S26-32. doi: 10.4065/mcp.2009.0646.

Treatment considerations for elderly and frail patients with neuropathic pain.

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Department of Medicine-Geriatrics, Center for the Study of Aging, Duke University Medical Center and Geriatric Research, Durham, NC, USA.


Currently, an estimated 38 million individuals 65 years or older live in the United States, and more than 11 million of these individuals are 80 years or older. Older people are at high risk of neuropathic pain because many diseases that cause neuropathic pain increase in incidence with age. Depending on their underlying health, older adults with neuropathic pain may have to cope with multiple coexisting diseases, polypharmacy, and impaired functional ability. The objective of this article is to review how aging and frailty affect the treatment of older adults with neuropathic pain. Specific topics reviewed include the complexity of treatment decisions in older patients due to aged heterogeneity, multimorbidity, and polypharmacy; selection of treatment in an effort to maximize patients' functional abilities in addition to relieving their pain; more careful dosing (usually lower) and monitoring of pharmacotherapy relative to younger patients due to age-related changes in pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics; and underrepresentation of older adults in clinical trials of neuropathic pain treatments, which further compromises physicians' ability to make informed treatment decisions.

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