Researchers estimate that almost half of older homeless adults could be experiencing chronic pain, mostly associated with post-traumatic stress syndrome, arthritis, and physical abuse.

Their study, in which researchers from the University of California San Francisco and San Francisco General Hospital interviewed homeless adults 50 years and older from overnight centers, homeless encampments, and meal programs in Oakland, appeared recently in The Journal of Pain, published by the American Pain Society.

The interviews were conducted at a community-based center that provides social services.

Among the 350 persons interviewed, 50% said they had moderate to severe chronic pain, and 75% said that their pain had lasted 5 years or longer.

The study suggests that chronic pain was linked with a history of being victims, violence, having arthritis and PTSD symptoms.  However, there was no association between chronic pain and substance abuse, depression or number of chronic medical conditions, other than arthritis, according to a media release from the American Pain Society.

“People who are homeless experience challenging physical environments, exposure to the elements, crowded shelters, and violence.  As all of these factors could contribute to the presence or severity of pain, we hypothesized that homeless adults in the sample would report a high prevalence of moderate to severe chronic pain,” says study co-author Margot Kushel, MD, professor of medicine, University of California San Francisco, in the release.

The researchers conclude in the study, per the release, that the high prevalence of chronic pain in homeless adults 50 years and older will require public health interventions that address pain and mental health problems among this population.

[Source(s): American Pain Society, Newswise]