Chronic pain affects your memory

Many people who suffer from musculoskeletal pain seek out massage therapy as a means to help relieve this pain.

Many people who suffer from musculoskeletal pain (pain that affects the muscles, tendons and ligaments along with the bones) seek out massage therapy as a means to help relieve this pain. New research, published on, shows that people who live with chronic spinal pain for more than three months experience difficulty with remembering information and problems with mental concentration.

Researchers placed a total of 64 patients with musculoskeletal pain syndromes into two ages groups: 30-50 years (totaling 41 patients) and 51-60 years (totaling 23 patients). The patients underwent various tests throughout the length of the study including neurological, neuro-orthopedic, clinical-pathopsychological and neuropsychological investigations.

Among the results, according to an abstract published on, were complaints of difficulty remembering information in 20.2 percent of patients and problems with mental concentraction in 17.3 percent of patients.

Both groups of patients were compared with a group of 20 healthy subjects which showed the test groups had significantly worse performance in tests assessing memory (delayed reproduction in the 12-word test), attention, mental flexibility and visuomotor coordination (the sequential number-letter combination test and digit symbol substitution test) than those of 20 healthy subjects.

The published abstract also showed how younger patients had worse performance in the forward and backward number series repetition test.

The cognitive functions in younger patients were affected by the sensory-discriminant (intensity) and affective-motivational (negative emotions, particularly anxiety) characteristics of pain, whilst in older patients the cognitive functions were affected by the affective-motivational (anxiety, level of psychoemotional distress) and cognitive (level of catastrophization) components of pain.

"Characteristics of Cognitive Functions in Patients with Chronic Spinal Pain" was conducted by researchers at Department of Nervous Diseases, Therapeutic Faculty, I. M. Sechenov Moscow Medical Academy, Moscow, Russia.

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