New research suggests association between chronic widespread pain and frailty in older European men
Researchers at the University of Manchester
have found that chronic pain is associated with an increased risk
of frailty in older men, according to an NIHR study published in
Journal of Age and Ageing.
Frailty is a widely recognised syndrome in older people.
Katie Wade, a postgraduate research student who is currently based
NIHR Manchester Musculoskeletal Biomedical Research Unit (BRU),
hypothesised that chronic pain by acting as a stressor, may
influence the development of, or worsening, frailty.
Using data from a large prospective study of aging in men, the
European Male Ageing Study (EMAS), led by Professor Fred Wu at the
University of Manchester, she looked at data on chronic pain and
frailty in more than 2,700 men aged between 40 and 79
years. Subjects who reported chronic pain at baseline
were more likely to develop frailty during a 4 year follow up
period than those without pain.
Furthermore, using a widely used index of frailty she observed
worsening in the index among those who reported chronic pain at
baseline. These associations persisted after adjustment for
lifestyle factors including smoking and physical activity
According to Professor Terry O'Neill, a member
of the research team:
These findings are important and add to our understanding of the
long term adverse health impact linked with chronic pain in older
people; they suggest also potential opportunities for targeted
interventions to reduce the occurrence of frailty.
"Further research is required though to confirm the findings and
to explore the biological mechanisms which may link chronic pain
The NIHR Manchester Muscuskeletal Biomedical Research Unit
is a partnership between Central Manchester University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust and The University of Manchester.