This Blog Covers:
- Chronic pain is a debilitating condition that can cause whole-body soreness, discomfort, depression, and anxiety.
- According to various research studies, chronic pain impairs the hippocampus, which is a region of the brain that controls learning, memory, and emotional processing.
- In this blog, the pain management specialists at American Spine explain how pain affects mood and memory.
A 2012 study from Northwestern University found brain fog, depression, and anxiety in chronic pain patients is caused by damage to nerve pathways and the hippocampus, a region that regulates emotions. Many pain patients encounter the symptoms of depression and anxiety frequently, and they often attribute them to being upset or frustrated with their condition. This isn’t unusual, and quite frankly, being frustrated with pain is warranted.
Chronic pain can be incredibly difficult to deal with, so it’s understandable why someone would feel depressed, anxious, and confused. Still, researchers from Northwestern University are saying these feelings may be caused by an impaired hippocampus. The study, which was published in the April edition of the Journal of Neuroscience, found patients suffering from complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and chronic back pain had smaller hippocampi than those who didn’t suffer from a chronic pain condition.
This was a revolutionary find, considering now more than ever pain management specialists are characterizing chronic pain syndromes as physical and mental disorders, not just physical conditions. Treatment for these diseases now focuses on a multidisciplinary approach, using interventional pain medicines with alternative therapies to provide whole-body wellness.
Going back to the study, researchers speculated different hippocampal sizes could be attributed to the lack of neuron growth found in this part of the brain. According to the report, the formation of new neurons is critical to memory and emotional processing. Patients who suffer from chronic pain don’t have this capability, which can lead to cognitive impairments.
Fortunately, this research team and others have been looking into treatment options that can support pain management from a mind and body approach. Until then, there are a number of behavioral health therapies available for patients recovering from a spinal surgery, or for patients who are still living in chronic pain. Call American Spine today to meet with our helpful staff who can walk you through different complementary therapies for interventional pain care and minimally invasive surgery.
At American Spine, we are dedicated to treating chronic pain and spine conditions. Offering the latest in minimally invasive spine surgery and other effective treatment options, American Spine is the leading pain physician group of California. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call us at (951)-734-PAIN (7246).
The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.