Chronic pain in the elderly leads to memory decline

Chronic pain is associated with accelerated memory decline and development of dementia in the elderly patients.

According new findings, published in the last quarter of 2017, elderly patients suffering from chronic pain experienced an accelerated decline in functional independence.

Elizabeth L. Whitlock, MD, investigator of the study said “Based on these results, there is a small but statistically significant rate of accelerated cognitive decline and dementia in persistent pain sufferers.”

In summary, the authors demonstrated that a persistent moderate to severe pain is associated with accelerated cognitive decline and increased dementia probability in a large population-representative data set of elders. The conclusion was:

Clinicians should be aware of this association, which persisted after extensive statistical adjustment for con- founding health and demographic factors. Patients reporting ongoing pain may be at higher risk for current and incident cognitive impairment and physical debility.”

Antidepressants are therefore not an optimal choice for this population, as antidepressants in itself can have a negative impact on cognition. Topical analgesic approaches, such as Topical Innovations currently develop, without such side effects due to their local mechanism of actions, can become a better therapy for elderly suffering from chronic pain.

Source: Whitlock, E. L., Diaz-Ramirez, L. G., Glymour, M. M., Boscardin, W. J., Covinsky, K. E., & Smith, A. K. (2017). Association Between Persistent Pain and Memory Decline and Dementia in a Longitudinal Cohort of Elders. JAMA Intern Med. 2017 Aug 1;177(8):1146-1153. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.1622.