Pain in Older Adults

Other painful conditions 

It is common for older people living with IBD to also experience painful comorbidities or complications of IBD, which need to be taken into account when considering the impact of pain of IBD.

Conditions like joint inflammation or arthritis, spondylitisosteoporosis and cancer are typically more prevalent in older people than in younger people with IBD. All of these conditions are known to cause pain outside the abdomen and need to be taken into consideration when creating a management plan for your pain and IBD. 

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Medications and polypharmacy

It is also common for older people to be taking multiple medications to manage their heath in addition to their IBD medication. People who are taking many medications may have problems with drug interactions and there options for pain medications may be limited. Make sure to log all the medications you are taking and communicate regularly with health care providers about any changes as it may impact your treatments for pain.

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Cognitive impairment

Older adults may also experience cognitive impairment or periods of forgetfulness. This can lead to difficulties in describing or reporting their pain to health care providers. It can also cause problems with taking their medications or treatment adherence.

It may be helpful for you or your caregiver to keep track of pain on a phone, or keep journal that notes your experiences with pain (severity, frequency, duration) that can be shared with a health care provider during an appointment. 

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Additional resources

Watch the video below to learn from an expert about Living with IBD in Older Adulthood. In this video you will learn about how aging can impact treatment, nutrition, complications of IBD, pain and symptom management. 


Dr. Noelle Rohatinsky (RN, PhD) is an Associate Professor and Registered Nurse at the University of Saskatchewan. Noelle received the Crohn’s and Colitis Canada Ross McMaster National Unsung Hero Award, and a 2018 Canadian Institute of Health Research Seed Grant from the University of Saskatchewan to investigate quality of life in older adults living with inflammatory bowel disease. 

For more information about the impact of IBD in older adults, check out our 2018 Impact of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Canada report.

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