Is losing our minds to “pain brain” optional?


64% of CRPSers experience significant cognitive decline. Speaking as a member of that majority, I think that sucks. Most people with chronic pain find that they experience the following:

– Confusion: it’s harder to keep track of things like we used to.

– Forgetfulness: forget the car keys? We’re capable of forgetting the car. It’s more than a touch of early onset Oldtimer’s.

– Distractability: I got up in the middle of a sentence when my meditation exercise was playing. I forgot what I was doing netween one syllable and the next and I could NOT make myself lie down again.

– Locked focus: once I do get into something, it can be impossible to tear myself away, even if I need to move or stretch or calm a racing heart. It’s *weird.*

– Memory: Forgetting the car? Sometimes I forget my birthplace. There are random, shifting holes in my long-term memory that I can’t do anything about, except waffle and flannel until the subject changes. Learning anything new that isn’t related to CRPS or writing (which my brain seems to have anchored with industrial grade mooring chains, so far) is pretty much doomed.

– Intense, driving feelings: catch me on a bad pain day and discover a new word for female dog, and it’s not because I want to be like that, but my internal brakes are off and everything feels like the emotional equivalent of flashing neon.

– Oversimplifying/black-and-white thinking: this was one of the first issues we addressed in my functional restoration class all those years ago. Without constant checking, chronic pain makes everything MUCH more intense, and maintaining middle gears is a constant job.

– Poor sleep. Trouble waking up. No duh.

 

Now, just for grins, let’s look at the list of symptoms for AD/HD:

– Difficulty tracking complex ideas/confusion

– Forgetfulness.

– Distractability.

– Locked focus.

– Memory issues.

– Intense, driving feelings.

– Oversimplifying/black-and-white thinking.

– Poor sleep. Trouble waking up. Hel-lo!

 

Is it just me, or is there a wee bit of overlap here?

 

Classically, ADD (or ADHD, or AD(optionalH)D) is not considered an aquired disease. However, I noticed that the parts of the brain that ARE distorted in ADD are some of the same parts of the brain that GET distorted in CRPS — and perhaps in other types of chronic pain.

 

We aren’t making these symptons up. We struggle mightily to keep our symptoms under some kind of control, but the worse this particular family of symptoms gets, the closer it gets to impossible to keep it under control.

 

Fortunately, ADD (et alia) has been treated successfully for years. The meds used overlap with meds used for neuropathic pain, depression and dysautonomia (because it’s all about regulated nerve signaling); the techniques overlap with the techniques for handling CRPS, dysautonomia and chronic pain (see my last two posts); and the therapy follow-up ties into the fact that ongoing counselling is part of the gold standard of treatment for CRPS, and darn well should be for chronic pain.

 

This is solvable. Let’s get our brains back, because life is too short for this to be allowed to continue.

 

When I get my scientific studies lined up, I’ll rewrite this for my bioscience blog. Feel free to take it to your doctor.

 

We can do this.

 

Meanwhile, borrow a couple of books like “you mean I’m not lazy, stupid or crazy?” and “delivered from distraction”, and see if it doesn’t take a load off your mind to recognize that there IS a way forward.

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5 Replies to “Is losing our minds to “pain brain” optional?”

  1. WOW at last someone who see what I see, It is not just ADHD, ADD but OCD, DCD, my Gosh the list goes on and on. Not to forget a family history of drug and or alcohol abuse changes the way the brain functions also. Thank you I am ADHD, Dyslexic, dyscalculie, not even going into family history. xxxx

  2. Thank you for this.I’ve bee in the weirdest loop since I broke my arm.. constant pain..no.one listening to me about the pain.. thank goodness I found a physio who has.. getting network done.. I could not understand what had happened to my brain I was thinking I had hit my headaches I feel.. but no it’s this CRPS …so thanks ..not to mention my personality change into ..the female dog!

    1. Heartfelt sympathy! Being disbelieved about something as primal as pain is truly maddening.

      The diagnostic criteria for CRPS are pretty straightforward, but the way they’re written in the protocol is not. This article lays it out in all its real simplicity, so, if you have a doctor who’s halfway willing to learn, perhaps you could get a physician diagnosis and start getting more complete treatment.
      http://biowizardry.info/wp/2014/12/the-hidden-simplicity-of-diagnosing-complex-regional-pain-syndrome/

      It’s awful to see yourself turning into someone you don’t want to be, as I well remember! I hope things turn around for you. I’m really really glad you found the good PT.

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