Fibromyalgia Pain Linked to Memory Problems

Karen Lee Richards Health Guide
  • Many people with fibromyalgia report having problems with cognitive functioning.  We often refer to this difficulty concentrating and short-term memory loss as fibro-fog or brain-fog because it feels as if our minds are in a fog – we know the information is there; we just can't find it at the moment.

    Pain and Memory

    A new study has found that the cognitive functioning problems of fibromyalgia may exacerbated by the pain.  The University of Alberta study compared 30 women with fibromyaglia with 30 healthy women.  Two tests were conducted.  In the first, subjects performed simple tasks such as reading a map or using a phone book.  In the second test, researchers looked at the quantity of information subjects could handle and their ability to multi-task.   

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    Lead researcher Bruce Dick, a professor in anesthesiology and pain medicine, reported that the working memory was impaired in those who had FM and they had difficulty focusing on specific bits of information.   What was significant, though, was the fact that as the tasks became more difficult, their performance dropped off dramatically if they had pain. 

    Opioids and Memory

    Dick also made another unexpected and surprising discovery.  The patients who were taking opioid medications had better memories.  Since opioids are not usually recommended for fibromyalgia, this opens up a whole new area for consideration.  He wants to do further studies on the use of  these medications for FM, stating that when properly screened and supervised, he feels the benefits may outweigh the risks. 

    Fibro-fog Tips

    If fibro-fog is a problem for you, there are things you can do to help clear away some of the fog.   Read Dealing with Fibro-Fog for tips on how to improve your cognitive functioning.

Published On: February 08, 2009