Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Pain and agitation in dementia

Pain is not the only cause of distress in dementia

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 23 August 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d5355
  1. Claud Regnard, consultant in palliative care medicine1
  1. 1St Oswald’s Hospice and Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  1. claudregnard{at}

When someone with severe communication difficulties is agitated and distressed, it is tempting to try analgesia on the assumption that pain is common,1 but this approach is flawed.

Firstly, behavioural disturbances can have many different causes; causes such as constipation will be worsened by opioid analgesia. …

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