Living with chronic pain can affect many different aspects of life. It can change your relationships, your social life, as well as your day to day tasks and for many, the overall quality of life that they have is also changed. One thing that we continue to hear among many chronic pain sufferers is that they have difficulty remembering small details of daily life. Whether its phone numbers, names or dates, their short-term memory is not the same as it was before the onset of the pain.
This could be a result of stress, medications, the pain being a constant distraction, or it could be a change in how your brain works as a result of dealing with the pain for a long period of time.
A number of international studies and even a more recent study conducted out of Edmonton, Canada have shown that chronic pain can be correlated with short-term memory loss to some degree. In the study done at the university in Edmonton, two thirds of chronic pain participants exhibited a significant disruption in their ability to focus and a great effect on their memory when they were tested.
In one study it was said that those who suffer from chronic pain syndrome including those who suffer from fibromyalgia had a smaller hippocampus than those who did not have chronic pain. The hippocampus is an important part of the human brain. It is responsible for memory, as well as emotional responses. It is thought that those who suffer with chronic pain are more likely to have difficulty with emotional responses and could be more likely to have anxiety-like behaviors than those who do not have pain.
Some argue that the medications used to manage chronic pain are responsible for some degree of memory loss. Others believe that a combination of chronic pain and medications used to manage the pain can cause a disruption in short-term memory, difficulty focusing, brain fog, and difficulty controlling emotions.
Brain training can be a fun and positive way of trying to regain your focus and maintain your memory. Some swear by meditation and mindfulness to quiet the chatter that goes on in the mind and reduce the outward distractions. Not all chronic pain sufferers have trouble with short term memory, but for those that do, pain management can help ease the pain allowing you to focus on your surroundings. In combination with brain training, pain management and reducing some of your daily stress, you may be able to minimize the affect that chronic pain has on your memory.