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Chronic pain often overlooked in patients with dementia

Chronic pain often goes unnoticed and therefore untreated in patients with cognitive impairments such as dementia. This was shown in a recent Slovenian study that was presented at the Congress of the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) in Copenhagen.

People with cognitive impairments such as dementia rarely come out and say that they are experiencing chronic pain. Their complaints therefore tend to be overlooked and to remain untreated. This was shown in a Slovenian study presented at the Second Congress of the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) in Copenhagen.

Dr Martin Rakusa (University Clinic in Maribor, Slovenia) and his team conducted a study involving 452 patients with an average age of 65 who had been in treatment for diabetes for many years. A total of 44 percent of them (199 individuals) were cognitively impaired. About 12 percent of all study participants (56) indicated they were suffering from chronic pain in their limbs, a frequent symptom accompanying diabetes. Two thirds of the pain patients (39 out of 56 individuals) were not cognitively impaired. Dr Rakusa: “Cognitively impaired individuals or individuals with dementia evidently articulate their complaints less frequently. We therefore have to do more than just ask them about possible pain; we have to actively examine them to determine whether they are experiencing pain.”

EAN 2016 Abstract: Rakusa M et al., Overlooked chronic pain in diabetic patients with cognitive impairment.