Chronic pain, like cancer, arthritis or back pain that lasts for longer than three months, can increase the chance of developing dementia and cognitive decline according to a study that has just been published.

The hippocampus is a brain structure closely associated with memory and learning, was aging by around an entire year in a person with one area of chronic pain as compared to those who had no pain.

If pain was experienced in two areas of our body, the hippocampus shrinked further — equivalent to about two years of age according to the estimates of the study that was published on this morning in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (or PNAS.

“In this way in other words, the volume of hippocampal (grey matter volume) of a 60-year-old suffering from (chronic discomfort) at two body locations was comparable to the volume in (pain free) subjects aged 62,” wrote corresponding author Tu Yiheng along with his colleagues. Tu is an instructor in Psychology in the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

The risk increased as the number of painful sites within your body increased as the study revealed. The volume of the hippocampal region was four times less in those suffering from pain at five or more of the body’s sites as compared to those who had only two sites of pain -that’s equivalent to 8 years of age.

“Asking individuals about chronic pain issues and advocating for their treatment by a pain specialist, could be a modifiable risk factor to the decline in cognitive function that you could take proactive steps to take action to address,” said Alzheimer’s disease researcher Dr. Richard Isaacson, a neurologists who specialize in preventive care with the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases of Florida. He wasn’t involved in the study.

Pain can cause a decline in cognition.

The study examined the data of more than 19,000 individuals who had been subjected to scanning of their brains for the UK Biobank, a long-term government study of more than 500 million UK participants who were between 40 to 69.

The people who have multiple places of body pain had worse results than those who had no pain in seven of the 11 cognitive tasks, the study revealed. Contrary to this, those with only one site of pain had a lower score on just one cognitive task, namely the ability to recall to complete an action in the future.

The study analyzed various contributing factors including alcohol use, age and body mass and ethnicity, genetics, histories of diabetes, cancer heart or vascular issues medication, psychiatric signs and smoking habits among others. The study, however, did not consider the level that exercise was being done, Isaacson said.

“Exercise is the most effective tool in fighting dementia and cognitive decline,” he said via email. “People who suffer from multisite chronic pain may not be able to maintain a regular physical exercise, which is a possible cause for an increase in risk of developing dementia.”

It is equally important to establish a connection between chronic inflammation and pain, Isaacson said. A review of research conducted in 2019 revealed that the pain triggers immune cells known as microglia that cause neuroinflammation. This can cause changes in brain connectivity and function.

Patients with greater levels of pain are also more likely to suffer from less gray matter in the other brain regions that affect cognition, like the frontal and prefrontal cortex. lobe, which are the same regions that are afflicted by Alzhemier’s Disease. In reality, more than 45percent of patients with Alzheimer’s suffer from chronic pain, according to a research study in 2016 referenced in the review inthe review.

The study also wasn’t capable of identifying sleep issues as chronic pain typically results in getting the best night’s sleep. A study in 2021 found that sleep less than 6 hours per night during the middle of life increases the risk of developing dementia by 30 percent.

A global disability

Globally the world over, lower back pain is a major reason for years of disability as neck pain ranks at the top of the list, at no. 4 in The 2016 Global Burden of Disease Study. Arthritis nerve injuries, painful from cancer , and injuries are among the most common causes.

Researchers estimate that more than 30% of the population suffer from chronic pain “Pain is the most frequent reason that people seek medical care and is the most common cause of disability around every country,” according to articles published in The Lancet in 2021.

The United States alone, at one in five people that is around 50 million Americans are suffering from chronic pain According to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 1 millions Americans suffer from chronic high-impact discomfort, which is defined as pain lasting more than three months “accompanied by at the very least one restriction on activity like being unable to work outside of the home, attend school, or complete the chores of household,” According to National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Chronic pain is associated with depression, anxiety, limitations in daily activities and mobility and dependence on opioids. higher health care costs and low living conditions. A study in 2019 estimated that between five million to eight million Americans used opioids for managing chronic pain.

The treatment of chronic pain

Programs for pain management typically comprise a range of experts to discover the best treatment of symptoms, while also providing assistance to ease the psychological and emotional pressure of pain, as per John Hopkins Medicine.

The medical treatment options include prescription and over-the-counter medications that reduce pain and lessen inflammation. The injection of steroids can aid. Antidepressants can increase the levels of serotonin that regulates one part of the pathway for pain inside the brain. The application of short bursts of electric current to muscles and nerve ends is another option for treatment.

Massage therapies, for instance, the whirlpool Therapies like massage, whirlpoolsand exercises can get the attention of occupational or physical therapists. Treatments with cold and hot temperatures and Acupuncture may also help.

Psychologists who are experts in rehabilitation can suggest methods of relaxation and cognitive stimulation like yoga, meditation, and tai chi yoga, which can help take your mind off of focusing on pain. Psychotherapy that focuses on cognitive behavior is an important therapy for pain that is psychological.

An anti-inflammatory diet might be suggested including replacing or cutting back to trans fats, refined sugars, and other processed food items. Losing weight could be beneficial too, particularly in the case of back as well as knee discomfort as per Johns Hopkins.