The Journal of Pain Summary
Highlight from The Journal of Pain (Volume 19, No. 12, December 2018 Issue)
Pain Can Increase Risk for Memory Impairment in Elderly Patients
Guusje van der Leeuw, Emmeline Ayers, Suzanne G. Leveille, Annette H. Blankenstein, Henriette E. van der Horst, Joe Verghese
More than 50% of community-dwelling older adults and 70% of older adults in residential homes experience pain. In addition to its impact on disability and functional impairment, previous studies have shown that chronic pain is associated with worse cognitive function in older adults.
A multicenter team of researchers examined whether pain increases risk of cognitive impairment compared with no pain in a group of individuals from the community and whether higher levels of pain lead to greater risk for developing cognitive impairment. They hypothesized that the presence and severity of pain would be associated with risk for developing future cognitive impairments evidenced by deficits in attention, executive function, and memory.
Researchers studied 441 subjects in Westchester County, New York without dementia who were enrolled in the Central Control of Mobility in Aging Study. Using telephone interviews and in-person visits, pain was assessed with a seven-item questionnaire from the Medical Outcomes Study. Cognition was measured using selected tests assessing attention, executive function, and memory.
Results of the analysis showed no difference in the risk for developing major cognitive impairment when older adults with pain of any severity were compared with older adults without pain. However, further analysis revealed that older adults with high levels of pain tend to have greater risk for developing memory impairment and have a three-fold increased risk for major memory impairment compared with older adults with low or no pain.