In recent years scientists have been connecting the dots and listening to patients with chronic pain. Patients have complained that they often experience memory loss, and not necessarily related to pain medication usage. Could this link be related to something that is happening in the brain of those suffering from chronic pain? The journal of PAIN published a study in February 2021 searching for answers to this question Could long-term chronic pain cause chemical changes in the brain producing memory loss? Most likely, yes. The process may involve disruption of synaptic plasticity. (1) But how cool, that scientists are actively studying this link.
Your health care providers and scientists are listening. In 2019, a comprehensive study evaluated 20 different studies involving memory and chronic pain. (2) Did you hear that? Twenty different studies published just on this topic. You are not going crazy. You may be experiencing changes in your working memory and long-term memory. You may be experiencing something called encoding or retrieving difficulties. (2) The more we understand these interactions, the more likely scientists will develop ways to help. It never hurts to use holistic skills to help either. Start doing a crossword puzzle daily. A study in Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society found that “late-life crossword puzzle was associated with delayed onset of memory decline in persons who developed dementia.” (3) Join a book club and read daily. Exercise those brain cells. Today, I discovered the New York Times daily “Spelling Bee” challenge. This appeals to me more than the crossword or sodoku. Work on puzzles on your dining room table. Invite your loved ones to work on the puzzle with you.
Embrace your handicap, just as you most likely have had to do with your physical handicap. Write everything down. Use a journal to write down your thoughts. Use your phone to record your thoughts. Personally, my mind swirls around at lightning speed all day long. I have to write down almost every meaningful thought, or my mind has moved on to the next thing.
Please don’t feel hopeless and forgotten. We are working tirelessly to help you.
Sharing knowledge, for you.
Yours truly, Hope for Pain
- Zhang GF, Zhou ZQ, Guo J, Gu HW, Su MZ, Yu BC, Zhou F, Han BY, Jia M, Ji MH, Tao YX, Zhao CJ, Yang JJ. Histone deacetylase 3 in hippocampus contributes to memory impairment after chronic constriction injury of sciatic nerve in mice. Pain. 2021 Feb 1;162(2):382-395. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000002056. PMID: 32868749.
2. Mazza S, Frot M, Rey AE. A comprehensive literature review of chronic pain and memory. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2018 Dec 20;87(Pt B):183-192. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2017.08.006. Epub 2017 Aug 8. PMID: 28797640.
3. Pillai, J. A., Hall, C. B., Dickson, D. W., Buschke, H., Lipton, R. B., & Verghese, J. (2011). Association of crossword puzzle participation with memory decline in persons who develop dementia. In Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society (Vol. 17, pp. 1006–1013). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1355617711001111