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The link between chronic pain and dementia

New research highlights the connection between chronic pain, dementia, and brain shrinking.

The researchers found that people with dementia reported slightly more chronic pain as long as 16 years before the dementia diagnosis, as well as increasing pain intensity over the years, as compared to people who did not develop dementia.

This problem, although stated to be unknown, lays within the epidemic of chronic inflammation. There are two types of inflammation, like most conditions, acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is what we understand the best because we can see it and feel it. This is the type of inflammation that appears quickly and drastically after you sprain your ankle, per se. Its purpose is to release chemical signals to alert your body that there is damaged tissues and that it should send help to heal the area. It is a nuisance but it has a very specific job that is beneficial to you.


On the other hand, we have chronic inflammation. This type of inflammation is low grade and systemic. So we do not see of feel it and it can easily spread throughout the body. This type of inflammation can be present with or without injury.


A lot of chronic pain is due to tissues that never fully and properly healed after injury. The initial acute inflammation has left, but a low grade chronic inflammation remains. But for some people, their chronic inflammation is present without any injury. This type of chronic inflammation is more common than we realize and its source is even more alarming; our diets and lifestyles.


Chronic inflammation without injury can cause just as much pain, if not more, than inflammation due to injury. Chronic inflammation bathes your nerves and causes them to fire inappropriately.

The team found that patients with multisite chronic pain had a significantly increased risk of dementia, more rapid cognitive decline, and greater hippocampal atrophy than did patients with no pain and patients with single-site chronic pain

Once again, when multisite chronic pain has very little understanding in conventional medicine, we know it is due to chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation does not stay in the same spot like acute inflammation does. It spreads. The longer you live with chronic inflammation and don't address it the more likely it is to spread. Wandering pains can be a sign of chronic inflammation on the move.


Almost every neurological disease, like depression, anxiety, dementia, and Alzheimer's disease can be connected to chronic neuroinflammation; inflammation in your brain. The blood brain barrier is an ultra filter that prevents things from getting into your brain that shouldn't be there. However, chronic inflammation is able to open up this barrier, allowing for inflammation and other harmful substances to penetrate your brain. Neurons misfire and shrink and the result is some sort of neurological disease depending on where in the brain the inflammation is most prevalent.


The longer someone lives with chronic pain, the more inflammation that is accumulating (as every chronic pain sufferer has chronic inflammation) and, therefore, the greater the risk and severity of dementia.

Unfortunately, pain is a part of aging,” Dr. Kaye said, pointing out that some studies have suggested that 70% to 75% of the elderly population may have chronic pain

This just simply isn't true. Pain is not normal and not a part of aging. There are countless other factors as to why we see more chronic pain in the elderly, but it has nothing to do with normal aging processes.

The increased risk of dementia in those with chronic pain is yet another reason to effectively treat pain, said Dr. Kaye. Although he noted the many challenges to treating chronic pain, particularly in the elderly. “There’s still a lot of work to do on the mechanistic links [between pain and dementia] as well as on the practical part of treating chronic pain.”

This study only offers a little helpful insight. It only recognizes the correlation between chronic pain and dementia but does not examine the cause. Unfortunately, this study can give doctors the wrong idea. Like Dr. Kaye, they think that they need to address the pain in order to address the dementia. The pain is not the problem. Pain doesn't cause anything other than pain. The inflammation that is causing the pain, though, is what is contributing to dementia.


If doctors treat pain with their conventional routes of drugs and injections, they will not see any improvements in dementia. Even if they did treat the inflammation with corticosteroids, they would not see a decrease in dementia. This type of low grade, systemic, inflammation can only be treated with diet and lifestyle modifications.


You have to cut inflammation at its source which is your gut. Highly inflammatory foods like dairy, gluten, and processed sugar have to be eliminated for both chronic pain and dementia sufferers. In addition, anti-inflammatory and brain supporting supplements should be considered like EPA, turmeric, resveratrol, vitamin D, and B vitamins.


Chronic pain is treatable and dementia is preventable.


You can read the full article here

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