People experiencing chronic pain have long suspected their memory process is broken. Chronic pain affects the ability to be a productive citizen and could possibly lead to disability.
Twenty-Four chronic pain patients were studied by The University of Albertausing computerized tests. On “pain” days, 67% evidenced clinical memory impairment. Researchers agreed the study was small, but concluded findings were “robust” enough to consider severe pain as a public health priority.
Thirty-five patients with chronic pain from Fibromyalgia were tested for failing memory by Leavitt F. Katz RS. Findings of this study evidenced that distraction caused short-term memory failings in the majority of Fibromyalgia patients. Further, when faced with distraction they failed to retain new memories properly.
Broken Short-Term Memory
In simple language, people in chronic pain can’t remember from one moment to the next. They frequently misplace items, forget necessary household tasks and put things where they don’t belong.
Fibromyalgia patients, in particular, experience Fibro Fog, where they literally look at life through a haze, causing such behavior as grasping for words, forgetting names of friends and/or learning new functions at work.
Quality of life is diminished by short-term memory challenges and could lead to on the job problems. But generally short-term memory loss is more annoying than life-threatening
Broken Long-Term Memory
Broken long-term memory presents bigger blanks. Sometimes months or years of lives are totally missing.
For example, I lived with my abusive mother from ages 10 to 18. I recall the abuse vividly, but I can’t remember the streets where we lived or little things like whether we went to movies or out to dinner. The few memories remaining are full of holes.
In contrast, I lived with a loving aunt and uncle from age two until 10. Those memories are intact.
Where do Lost Memories go?
The short answer is, nobody knows. A common theory is that our short-term memories in some mystical manner are stored in a long-term memory (brain) vault during sleep.
Here’s where chronic pain patients get short-changed. Due to brain fog and/or neurotransmitter abnormalities, we don’t retain all our short-term memories. Moreover, the storage process gets interrupted because pain makes it difficult to fall asleep and we awaken frequently.
Note: Neurotransmitters control our brain signals. Medical Science is beginning to recognize that chronic pain patients may have abnormal neurotransmitters, which incorrectly signals sleep cycles and amplifies pain.
As stated in the Canadian study, “Chronic pain can quite literally drive people to distraction.”
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Sources: Science Daily