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A. Age is an Important Factor When Treating Pain

Narrator: This is Science Today. When it comes to treating patients suffering from severe, chronic pain, age is a very important factor. Dr. Pamela Pierce Palmer, director of the University of California, San Francisco Pain Management Center, found that older patients can safely and effectively be treated with opioid pain medications with little risk of seeking ever-increasing doses. But younger patients were found to want to rapidly up their doses.

Palmer: When I started this study, my main goal was to point out the problem of giving opiates to young people because what we found was there was no long-term benefit in pain relief, even though they escalated sometimes to well over half a gram a day of opiates.

Narrator: Palmer then discovered that elderly patients in pain did not have to escalate to very high doses of opiates and in fact, they had long-term benefit.

Palmer: If we can find those key molecules that make the difference, we can target them and maybe make morphine last longer and better for a twenty-five year old.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.