May 2018

30th April – 6th May

Chronic pain and Neurocognition

Researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine included 53 studies in a systematic review of the relationship between chronic pain and neurocognition. Neurocognition describes the functioning of the brain, such as memory, concentration, language, visuospatial processing and executive functioning, which is a term that encompasses the ability to plan, multi-task and decision-make, to name a few.  Findings suggest a link between chronic pain and impairments in memory, attention, processing speed and in some cases executive functioning. The correlation may be due to mediating variables such as mood, medication and pain intensity. Further studies would do well to examine these confounding variables in order to help recognise and reduce neurocognitive impairments from arising in chronic pain sufferers.

The abstract of this article can be found here.

Opioid Prescription to Heroin Use in Military Veterans 

Researchers from the National Development and Research Institutes, New York, were interested in the temporal relationship between prescription opioids and heroin use in military veterans since there is speculation that prescription opioid use, following service, leads to heroin dependence. 214 opioid-using veterans, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, were included in a cohort analysis. Results revealed that 27% reported pre-military opioid prescriptions and those born before 1970 were more likely to have used heroin prior to opioid prescriptions. Furthermore, there was evidence to suggest that those born after 1985 had engaged in heroin use prior to military service. The results appear to describe a more complex relationship than has been previously suggested. It may be that those engaging in opioid abuse are more likely to enrol in the military and that there are certain characteristics that put military veterans at risk for substance use disorders. The motivations behind heroin use and prescription opioids were reported as helping alleviate psychological pain. These findings highlight the need for further support and education to at-risk-military veterans with a pre-military history of opioid use. They also support the need for alternative non-opioidergic treatments for pain.

The full article can be downloaded here.

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