Chronic pain can drive you to distraction

May 17, 2007

Anyone who has experienced chronic pain knows that it affects the ability to work, sleep and perform other activities essential to leading a full life. Now researchers at the University of Alberta have confirmed that chronic pain doesn't just cause physical discomfort; it can impair your memory and your concentration.

In a study recently conducted at the university's Multidisciplinary Pain Centre in Edmonton, Canada, two-thirds of participants with chronic pain showed significant disruption of attention and memory when tested.

After studying 24 patients, Drs. Bruce D. Dick and Saifudin Rashiq seem to have zeroed in on one of the cognitive mechanisms affected by chronic pain. Their findings, published in the latest issue of Anesthesia and Analgesia, suggest that pain may disrupt the maintenance of the memory trace that is required to hold information for processing and retain it for storage in longer-term memory stores. In other words, chronic pain can, quite literally, drive people to distraction.

Participants in the study--all of whom had pain lasting six months or longer--were given computerized tests of working memory and a neuropsychological test of attention on separate "pain" and "less pain" days.

On the "less pain" day, participants were tested after receiving a pain-reducing procedure as part of their ongoing treatment at the Centre. On the "pain" day, participants were tested without having received a pain-reducing procedure, when their pain was reported to be at a high level. Sixteen participants--a startling 67 per cent--showed clinical impairment due to pain on their pain testing day. The remaining eight participants, or 33 per cent, showed no clinical impairment due to pain.

The sample of individuals included in the study may be small, but the statistically significant findings are "robust", Dick and Rashiq said.

"Prevalence studies indicate that as much as 44 per cent of the population--in Canada as well as in the U.S. and Europe--experience pain on a regular basis, and that in approximately one-quarter of this group the pain is severe", said Dick. The cost of chronic pain to society is great, and Dick and Rashiq argue that the matter needs to be recognized as a public health priority.
-end-
For more information, contact:
Dr. Bruce Dick, Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
University of Alberta, (780)407-1097
bddick@ualberta.ca

University of Alberta

Related Memory Articles from Brightsurf:

Memory of the Venus flytrap
In a study to be published in Nature Plants, a graduate student Mr.

Memory protein
When UC Santa Barbara materials scientist Omar Saleh and graduate student Ian Morgan sought to understand the mechanical behaviors of disordered proteins in the lab, they expected that after being stretched, one particular model protein would snap back instantaneously, like a rubber band.

Previously claimed memory boosting font 'Sans Forgetica' does not actually boost memory
It was previously claimed that the font Sans Forgetica could enhance people's memory for information, however researchers from the University of Warwick and the University of Waikato, New Zealand, have found after carrying out numerous experiments that the font does not enhance memory.

Memory boost with just one look
HRL Laboratories, LLC, researchers have published results showing that targeted transcranial electrical stimulation during slow-wave sleep can improve metamemories of specific episodes by 20% after only one viewing of the episode, compared to controls.

VR is not suited to visual memory?!
Toyohashi university of technology researcher and a research team at Tokyo Denki University have found that virtual reality (VR) may interfere with visual memory.

The genetic signature of memory
Despite their importance in memory, the human cortex and subcortex display a distinct collection of 'gene signatures.' The work recently published in eNeuro increases our understanding of how the brain creates memories and identifies potential genes for further investigation.

How long does memory last? For shape memory alloys, the longer the better
Scientists captured live action details of the phase transitions of shape memory alloys, giving them a better idea how to improve their properties for applications.

A NEAT discovery about memory
UAB researchers say over expression of NEAT1, an noncoding RNA, appears to diminish the ability of older brains to form memories.

Molecular memory can be used to increase the memory capacity of hard disks
Researchers at the University of Jyväskylä have taken part in an international British-Finnish-Chinese collaboration where the first molecule capable of remembering the direction of a magnetic above liquid nitrogen temperatures has been prepared and characterized.

Memory transferred between snails
Memories can be transferred between organisms by extracting ribonucleic acid (RNA) from a trained animal and injecting it into an untrained animal, as demonstrated in a study of sea snails published in eNeuro.

Read More: Memory News and Memory Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.