Little is known about pain and pain management in older adults who experience open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) surgery. This qualitative descriptive phenomenological study explored two research questions: (a) What are the perceptions of pain and pain management in patients between 65 and 75 years of age, 48 hours after ORIF surgery in a community hospital? (b) What are the perceptions of adaptation after ORIF? A pilot study included four patients in two units of a Southern California hospital, followed by open ended, semi-structured interviews with 10 participants. Four themes emerged: (a) elderly patients experience different patterns of pain and coping mechanisms; (b) elderly patients experience pain after gaining consciousness from ORIF surgery; (c) effective pain management requires patients’ empowerment and opportunity to participate in pain management decisions; (d) elderly patients perceive adaptation as a process of change and acceptance. Multimodal pain management strategies, including regional opioids and systemic anti-inflammatories, could reduce post-operative, generalized bio-physiological stress experienced by elderly patients.


Acute Pain, Chronic Pain and Osteoporosis, Effective Pain Management, Open and Reduction Internal Fixation (ORIF) Surgery, Elderly Patients, Phenomenology, Qualitative

Author Bio(s)

Sharon M. Whyte-Daley worked with patients in surgical and critical care areas during her career as a registered nurse for 17 years and as a nurse epidemiologist for 8 years. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: jivaun12@email.phoenix.edu.


The author thanks the center for Educational and Technology Research, School of Advance Studies, University of Phoenix, for supporting the preparation of this manuscript.

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