In 2008 there was a study done at the University of Alberta that suggests people with FM may have disruptions in their memory due to pain.
They compared 30 women with FM and 30 controls.
In the first test, Dick and his colleagues had his subjects perform simple tasks such as reading a map or using a phone book. They got the bulk of their results in the second test when researchers looked at how much information the subjects could handle and whether multi-tasking was particularly difficult.
“We found that the Fibromyalgia sufferers had difficulty focusing on specific bits of information,” said Dick. “The working memory was impaired and [as tasks] became more difficult mentally, people’s performance dropped off quite dramatically if they had pain related to Fibromyalgia.”
There are other factors that can cause cognitive disruption, including sleep problems and depression. Even with taking those factors into consideration, Dick found in his study that the subjects still had a slip in their working memory.
Dick believes his findings contribute to what Fibromyalgia sufferers call “fibro fog.” They describe it as having trouble concentrating, suffering short-term memory loss and having general cognitive slowing.
The U of A researcher says he made another interesting and surprising discovery. Those patients that were on narcotics or opiates had much better memories.
“The drugs that are really controversial actually seemed to help them be much more functional,” said Dick, who adds he wants medical professionals to consider his findings when they are prescribing something for pain.
This isn’t surprising. There have been studies to show that the memory issues with FM are due to pain and not, say, the sleep dysfunction or depression. Pain impairs memory and concentration, just a fact.