Chronic Pain and Aging
While chronic pain may make people feel older, it may also speed up the aging process. Recent research with patients suffering from long-term back pain and neck pain found that the aging process may be accelerated by up to 30 years.
Findings published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, found that people suffering from chronic pain age 50-59, looked comparable to healthy patients who were older by 20-30 years. The study also found that people suffering from chronic pain functioned as if they were much older when doing certain types of physical activities including walking/jogging, climbing stairs, using the upper extremities, and performing routine activities like bathing, dressing, and eating.
Research done at the University of California found that 24 percent of patients experienced pain through all four of the above mentioned physical activities. Only 9 percent of patients with chronic pain were able to jog a mile while 37 percent of patients who were without pain were able to jog a mile. Additionally, 50 percent of chronic pain patients were able to walk a short distance without difficulty, however, 91 percent of same aged subjects who do not experience pain walked the short distance without complications. This study confirms what chronic pain patients already feel on a daily basis.
When considering chronic back pain and neck pain and the physical and mental tolls of chronic pain, it is crucial for patients to stay active by exercising or using physical therapy.