What Causes Fibromyalgia Memory Loss?

Once fibromyalgia memory loss was determined to be genuine, this left a lot of questions as to why fibromyalgia sufferers experienced these symptoms.

    Chronic Pain:
    A study performed at Northwestern University found a link between chronic pain and memory loss. Imaging studies performed on chronic pain patients showed a 25% increase in pre-frontal cortex activity, when compared to healthy controls. The pre-frontal cortex is also responsible for helping your brain retain new information and short-term details. However, when pain symptoms were reduced in these patients, activity in the pre-frontal cortex decreased, and memory actually improved. This supports the theory that pain may have a significant role to play in fibromyalgia memory loss.
    Sleep and Memory:
    There also appears to be a link between sleep habits and memory and cognition. Studies have shown that people are able to remember information better if they have a period of restful sleep in between study and recall. This effect has been termed the "sleep effect." Because fibromyalgia patients often suffer from disturbed sleep patterns, the sleep effect on memory may be greatly reduced in fibromyalgia sufferers. In particular, sleep disorders like sleep apnea, may significantly reduce your ability to retain and recall new information.

 Beating Memory Loss: Tips For Improved Cognition

Though memory loss can be quite upsetting, it doesn’t have to be a fact of life when it comes to fibromyalgia. There are few things that you can do to help improve your memory while retaining control over your symptoms.

Use Learning Strategies

Learning strategies are a great way to help your brain remember information and details. They simply provide you with a more organized way of storing and retrieving information.

Some effective learning strategies include:

  • Association: When you are learning new information, try to form associations between individual details. For instance, if you are trying to remember someone named Autumn, picture them standing amongst fallen autumn leaves.
  • Rehearsal: Rehearsal is a great way to improve your memory. Simply rehearse what you need to remember a few times over. This will help your brain to store the information and mark it for easy recall.
  • Visualization: Remembering words or directions is difficult because they are abstract. Try to picture an image of what you need to remember instead.

Exercise Your Brain

Just as your body needs exercise, so does your brain! Try to exercise your brain a little bit every day, by completing brainteasers, crossword puzzles, or trivia questions. Find an activity you enjoy and stick with it!

Avoid Certain Medications

Unfortunately, certain medications appear to impact directly on memory. By identifying which of your medications affect your cognition, you can help to lessen your cognitive difficulties.

Medications that are known to affect memory include:

  • benzodiazepines
  • tricyclic antidepressants
  • first generation antihistamines (such as Benadryl)

If you are taking any of these medications and they appear to be affecting your memory, talk with your health care provider. She may be able to suggest an alternative medication.


Table of Contents
1. Memory Loss
2. Tips to improve memory
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