Older adults are referred for outpatient physical therapy to improve their functional capacities. The goal of the present study was to determine if pain had an influence on functional outcomes in older adults who took part in an outpatient physical rehabilitation program.
A retrospective study was performed on the medical records of patients aged 65 and over referred for outpatient physical therapy to improve physical functioning (n=178). Pain intensity (11-point numeric pain scale) and results from functional outcome measures (Timed Up and Go [TUG], Berg Balance Scale [BBS], 10-meter walk test, 6-minute walk test and Functional Autonomy Measuring System [SMAF]) were extracted at initial (T1) and final (T2) consultations. Paired t-tests were performed to determine if there were differences in functional outcome measures between T1 and T2 in all the patients. Patients were stratified to those with pain (PAIN, n=136) and those without pain (NO PAIN, n=42). Differences in functional outcome measures between T1 and T2 (delta scores) were compared between groups with independent t-tests with Welch corrections for unequal variances. Pearson correlation coefficients between initial pain intensity and changes in functional outcome measures (T2-T1) were also performed. Correcting for multiple comparisons, a p-value of p≤0.01 was considered as statistically significant.
The TUG, BBS, 10-meter walk test, 6-minute walk test all demonstrated improvement between T1 and T2 (all p<0.01). There was no difference between groups for delta scores for TUG (p=0.14), BBS (p=0.03), 10-meter walk test (p=0.54), 6-minute walk test (p=0.94) and SMAF (p=0.23). Pearson correlation coefficients were weak between initial pain intensity and changes in functional outcome scores between T1 and T2 (r= −0.16 to 0.15, all p-values >0.10).