Chronic Pain Causes Cognitive Decline

If you suffer chronic pain or know someone with chronic pain, this will be common knowledge to you.  Now, studies have shown that chronic pain does cause, or at least is linked to impaired cognition.


“Psychomotor performance and executive functions showed the most prominent decline. Interestingly, pain duration appeared to be the strongest predictor for observed cognitive decline. Depressive symptoms, sleep disturbance, opioid use and history of alcohol abuse provided additional explanations for the observed cognitive decline in some of the tests, but to a lesser extent than pain duration.”

PLoS One. 2011;6(8):e23363. Epub 2011 Aug 18. Neurodegenerative properties of chronic pain: cognitive decline in patients with chronic pancreatitis. Jongsma ML, Postma SA, Souren P, Arns M, Gordon E, Vissers K, Wilder-Smith O, van Rijn CM, van Goor H. Donders Centre for Cognition, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


“Cognitive impairment is commonly associated with the pain experience. This impairment represents a major obstacle to daily activities and rehabilitation, especially in the chronic pain population. Here we review clinical and preclinical studies that have investigated pain-related alterations in cognition. These include impaired attentional, executive and general cognitive functioning.”

Prog Neurobiol. 2011 Mar;93(3):385-404. Epub 2011 Jan 7.   The effect of pain on cognitive function: a review of clinical and preclinical research. Moriarty O, McGuire BE, Finn DP. Pharmacology and Therapeutics, School of Medicine, National University of Ireland, Galway, University Road, Galway, Ireland.


Other causes of cognitive decline: