In the first episode of the Fibromyalgia Weekly podcast, I heard Betsy Singh-Anand mention a link between chronic pain and the loss of IQ points due to brain shrinkage. I asked her for more information, and oh my gosh! What scary stuff for the chronic pain sufferer!
According to a study at the Northwestern University Institute of Neuroscience, by Professor A. Vania Apkarian, chronic pain causes cognitive losses due to shrinkage of the prefrontal cortex and other areas. Previous research found that ongoing back pain (at least 6 months) causes abnormal brain chemistry in areas important in emotional assessments, decision-making and control of social behaviour.
So, if I've gone postal at you, my friends, at any time in the last few years (a specific MTG tournament organising thing comes to mind), well, I'm sorry, its obviously that my brain has gone loopy.Further research using MRI, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, showed that people who lived in chronic pain had brain shrinkage per year equivalent to 10-20 years of normal aging! (Shaky voice: You know, when I was young...). Although this shrinkage is indicated in the gray matter (i.e., the thinking part of the brain), the study did not link this loss to brain function, so it could be non-critical areas that are becoming atrophied. And, they're not sure whether this brain damage is irreversible. Suck to be me right now!
Another study has linked an overweight or obese BMI to brain shrinkage.
Double whammy for me! Another reason to lose weight post haste!Other studies by Catherine Bushnell, a researcher at McGill University's Center for Research on Pain in Montreal, have shown that it helps to be distracted from your pain, so tell your family to stop asking you how you feel and listen to more music or something.
Filed as: Fibromyalgia »