Skip to main content

How Memory Impairment Impacts the Chronic Pain Experience

Persons who have memory or executive function impairment have increased risk of developing chronic pain after surgery, according to a study published in Brain this past January. According to the authors, 185 persons aged 18 to 85 who were undergoing knee replacement or breast cancer surgery were studied.  The subjects were also assessed for the memory/executive function impairments prior to surgery and for a year following.

 Here is a breakdown of the study results:

Type of surgery              % reporting significant pain 
                                               prior to surgery                    6 months post-op         12 months post-op

Knee replacement                      84                                           39                                38

Breast surgery                            0                                             20                                18       

The presence of memory impairment and/or executive function disorders predicted which individuals experienced post operative pain.  These persons had findings on brain MRI that indicated some abnormalities of areas where the pain signal processing AND memory/executive function are located. 

From the results of this study, it appears that there is some ability to forecast the risk of post operative chronic pain--simply by knowing the patient's mental functional ability.  It's potentially a powerful tool in the war on chronic pain, don't you think?

Sources: Psychiatryonline,


Popular posts from this blog

Living with Chronic pain hits the big screen!

Been to the movies lately?  Jennifer Aniston is on the big screen in a recent release titled "Cake."
Her character, Claire is a victim of chronic pain...she belongs to a support group, where all of the members are coming to terms with the suicide of one of their members.  Of course, she also takes pain medication and addiction is another of her problems...and of course there's more!

I guess I am writing this post just to bring readers' attention to the fact that Hollywood has become aware of the crisis that is chronic pain.  This movie is a testament to that. People that don't have to live with this kind of pain don't fully understand the whole story.  Maybe this movie will shed some light on the issues.

Here is the official trailer for the movie:

Sources: prweb;;YouTube

Herpes As A Helper?

If you've ever had shingles, or known anyone that has experienced it, you probably know that chronic pain can persist following the initial attack (post herpetic neuralgia).  This is because the herpes virus seems to have an affinity for nerve cells.  And while it's not fun to have shingles or post herpetic neuralgia, the herpes virus may be a key in future development of delivery systems for pain management treatments.

Here's the deal--since Herpes simplex has an affinity for nerve cells, researchers are looking a genetically modified, safer version of the virus to deliver genetic material to damaged nerves.  In simple terms, once the genetic material reaches these nerve cells, it will hopefully encode these nerves to ultimately inhibit pain signals.  Animal studies and clinical trials in cancer patients have been encouraging thus far.

This is one of those developments that makes me believe that there is hope for those in chronic pain. Along with so many other exciting d…

The Knee Bone's Connected To The Leg Bone....

Two recent studies have brought a not-so-novel concept into the limelight-the concept being that people who present with knee pain often develop pain in other parts of their bodies.  These studies, known as the Multicenter Osteoarthritis Study (MOST) and the Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI), were assessed by a Clinical Epidemiology Team as Boston University School of Medicine in an effort to find preventive strategies to combat this trend.

The authors suggest that knee pain may cause individuals to alter their gait in an effort to compensate for their discomfort. In doing so, the alignment of other body joints is altered, and this may be the cause of secondary joint pain, especially hips and ankles. The authors go on to say that the pain in these secondary sites is not necessarily osteoarthritis--perhaps bursitis or some other injury.

Osteoarthritis is a result of wear and tear in the joints.  We may not be able to completely eliminate osteoarthritis from occurring, but some common se…