Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a complicated disorder of the nervous system. The effects of CRPS can be very extensive and cause changes in both physical and mental well-being. Although, CRPS is typically recognized for affecting the sympathetic nervous system, research has connected CRPS to various cognitive difficulties in patients, such as CRPS memory loss. It is common for CRPS patients to suffer from memory and attention deficits as well as severe pain from the condition.
CRPS memory loss can have a severe impact on a person’s functionality. The physical aspects alone can become debilitating but in conjunction with CRPS memory loss a patient may not be able to maintain their independence. Cognitive impairments from CRPS memory loss can affect other aspects of cognition, such as verbal fluency and motor control function.
Causes of CRPS Memory Loss
There are several reasons for why a CRPS patient might develop CRPS memory loss. CRPS memory loss is speculated to be a result of limbic system dysfunction in the patient. This limbic system dysfunction is similar to what causes various other problems from the condition. Some of the other symptoms related to the causes of CRPS memory loss are insomnia, agitation, depression, and poor judgment. Nearly all patients with CRPS are afflicted with other limbic system dysfunctions as well.
Another possible cause of CRPS memory loss is from what doctors call maladaptive neuroplasticity. This can occur because a CRPS patient’s mental resources may become distracted by the chronic pain accompanying the condition. According to research, since a person’s brain always remains in a constant state of equilibrium the sensory perception of severe pain can prevent the brain from utilizing itself for more relevant activities needed for daily life. This effect will in turn cause CRPS memory loss.
Impacts from CRPS Memory Loss
Predictably, CRPS memory loss will cause a noticeable diminishment in quality of life for the patient. This effect can even be more severe than the physical symptoms involved. CRPS patients will often display a loss of function in the affected areas from CRPS. A decrease in mental capacity may not immediately present itself in the symptomology of the patient. Sometimes CRPS memory loss occurs in a later stage of the condition. CRPS memory loss is most often prevalent in the third stage of the condition. At that point the patient may have to rely on others for help with their necessary daily activity.
CRPS Memory Loss from CRPS Treatments
CRPS memory loss can also occur as a result of the treatments selected by health care professionals. There are several different types of CRPS treatments and many are acknowledged as commonly affecting the patient’s memory. For example, opioid medications, anticonvulsant benzodiazepines, and NMDA receptor blockers are very potent inhibitors of memory formation. However, these treatments are often necessary to allow the patient to tolerate the chronic pain associated with CRPS.
A simple way around the issue is to select a method of treatment that will not solicit unnecessary effects to a patient’s memory. While some of the treatments available that do not affect memory are invasive techniques, there are also drug therapies that can help to relieve symptoms while preserving the patient’s mental functioning.
Examples of medical treatments that do not cause CRPS memory loss:
• NSAIDs. This is an abbreviated term for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. This strategy is
shown to reduce pain and swelling in CRPS while leaving the patient’s memory less affected by
CRPS memory loss
• Spinal column therapies. The two most common medical treatments from this category are electrode stimulation of the nerves and spinal column or nerve sympathectomy. Both of these treatments work by directly affecting the nerves of the patient. Electrode stimulation attempts to augment the electrical pain signaling into a subtle tingling sensation while nerve sympathectomy is the surgical removal of the misfiring nerves that cause pain from the condition. Both of these treatments are good choices for patients already suffering with CRPS memory loss.
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