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Cognitive Impairment from Chronic Pain is Reversible
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cweinbl posted:
For years, many of us with unrelenting chronic pain have noticed at least some slight congnitive impairment. Our memory seems slower and less accurate. We struggle with congnitive tasks that were simple to perform before the chronic pain. Research has validated this via MRI analysis. An area of the left prefrontal cortex, responsible for cognition, is thinner in chronic pain patients. What we have not known is whether this reduction in brain thickness is reversible, if the pain is successfully treated.

New research from McGill University reveals that this cortical thickness is reversible when the pain is relieved. Read the research here: http://updates.pain-topics.org/2011/06/treating-back-pain-reverses-brain.html

After successful pain treatment, patients exhibited increased cortical thickness in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), which had been thinner before treatment compared with controls. The DLPFC plays an important role in pain perception and its increased thickening correlated with reductions of both pain and physical disability. Additionally, increased thickness in the primary motor cortex was associated specifically with reduced physical disability. In terms of cognitive performance, left DLPFC activity during an attention-demanding task was abnormal before treatment in patients with CLBP but normalized following treatment.

It should be noted that all of the chronic pain patients whose pain was not successfully treated in this group failed show an increase in brain mass at the conclusion of the study. This validates the fact that only successfully treated brains produced reversed (improved) cognitive functioning.
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