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Chronic Pain and Memory – The Missing Link

If you suffer from chronic pain, have you suspected the pain may be affecting your memory? Many chronic pain sufferers complain that they experience brain fog, anxiety, depression or other mental or emotional disorders. Recent studies support the theory that there may be a link between chronic pain and short-term memory issues.

Studies have shown that pain can disrupt several cognitive processes, leading to problems in attention, spatial memory, recognition memory and decision making. One study of chronic pain sufferers in Canada found that patients performed worse on memory tests when they didn’t have a pain-relieving procedure. The researchers noted that the results didn’t seem to be linked to other factors such as age, sleep or stress.

An animal study by Portuguese researchers may provide some insight about the relationship between chronic pain and memory. They studied brains of rats as they navigated mazes and noticed a significant reduction in the amount of information that flows between the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus after a painful injury. The prefrontal cortex and hippocampus are the parts of the brain that are essential for spatial memory, and the disruption of this circuit can affect the ability to record information about the environment.

Tips to Compensate for Memory Problems

  1. Reduce stress. Stress management can help reduce short-term memory loss that people experience with age.
  2. Exercise. A study involving men and women between the ages of 50 and 85 found that exercise releases norepinephrine, a hormone that plays an important role in learning and memory.
  3. Get plenty of sleep. Sleep is important for health. When people don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis, it can affect their memory.
  4. Socialize. Studies have found that people with active social lives experience a slower rate of memory decline than people who are more isolated.
  5. Set reminders. If you’re experiencing cognitive difficulties, setting up reminders can make your life easier. Keep a calendar, write lists or use sticky notes to remind you about important tasks and dates.
  6. Eat nutritious foods. The foods that you eat may be affecting your brain. Certain foods such as leafy greens and blackberries are associated with better memory.
  7. Play brain games. Crosswords and Sudoku puzzles are easily accessible and are a great way to keep your brain sharp.

Compassionate Pain Care

If you’re suffering from chronic pain, contact us at Advanced Pain Care to schedule an appointment. Our experienced pain care specialists treat patients in Killeen, Waco and the Austin metro area with cutting-edge pain management techniques that help patients regain their quality of life.