Older Adults With Chronic Pain Can Become More Susceptible to Dementia: Experts


    In a new find, experts from the University of California have linked chronic pain with cognitive decline. According to the study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine, chronic pain can be linked to changes in the brain associated with impaired memory. Experts studied data collected from close to 1000 older adults who experienced persistent chronic pain over a period of 12 years. Some of them showing signs of developing memory related issues.

    They may also have diminished attention capacity and are more susceptible to risk of developing dementia years later. The association between dementia and chronic pain was suspected to be the high intake of painkillers by these older adults. Specifically, when pain is severe or causes patients to ruminate, it could divert enough attention to interfere with the consolidation of memory. As a result, these adults face a harder time with tasks from daily routine, such as independently managing their medications and finances.


    Experts arrived at a set of possibilities linking chronic pain with cognitive issues. Experiencing chronic pain may affect brain’s ability to perform cognitive functions and encode memories. Another theory talks about the activation of stress hormones triggered by excessive pain that can meddle with smooth functioning of the cognitive system.

    Older adults who were persistently troubled by moderate or severe pain showed diminished memory function at a 9.2 per cent faster rate in tests conducted ten years later.

    The study is an attempt to establish pain as a marker to measure increased risk of future cognitive decline. Chronic pain management will not only ensure better quality of life but will also ensure warding off such health risks.

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