‘On their own’: social isolation, loneliness and chronic musculoskeletal pain in older adults

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Purpose: In this paper, the concepts of social isolation and loneliness will be explored in relation to people with chronic musculoskeletal pain. Through this, biological, psychological and social factors will be examined to consider how we can identified people at risk of social isolation and loneliness who have chronic musculoskeletal pain and secondly how health professionals may intervene to reduce their effects.

Design/methodology/approach: Conceptual paper.

Findings: Social isolation and loneliness is evident in people with chronic musculoskeletal diseases. This may be bi-directional where both pain may lead to social isolation and loneliness, or social isolation and loneliness may exacerbate pain. Interventions to improve the symptoms of chronic musculoskeletal pain, and approaches around social participation and engagement should be adopted in combination to ameliorate this potentially disabling scenario.

Originality/value: There remains limited evidence around the prevalence and management of social isolation and loneliness for people with chronic musculoskeletal pain. By raising awareness of social isolation and loneliness in this population, people with chronic musculoskeletal pain may be better supported to reduce the negative impact that social isolation and loneliness can have on their health and well-being.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-92
Number of pages6
JournalQuality in Ageing and Older Adults
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2017


  • Musculoskeletal
  • Arthritis
  • Loneliness
  • Isolation
  • Morbidity
  • Depression
  • Rheumatology

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