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neck and memory loss

sandraleessandralee Posts: 1
edited 05/18/2013 - 12:23 PM in Chronic Pain
Hi, I am new to the group. My name is Sandralee I am 47 and suffer from chronic neck pain and have started to feel confused at times and feel like I have developed memory loss. Does anyone know if chronic neck pain causes memory loss?
sandra spake


  • sandisandi Posts: 6,343
    edited 05/19/2013 - 5:15 AM
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    I'm sorry that you are experiencing neck pain, but I personally have never heard of neck pain causing or contributing to memory loss. Have you seen your primary doctor to discuss your concerns or been seen by either a board certified ortho or neuro spine surgeon to evaluate what might be going on with your neck? If you are having are having memory issues, it might be worthwhile to see a neurosurgeon as well to see if there is something else going on that might be causing it. Are you taking any medications? Sometimes, medications can have side effects that might be causing memory issues? It might be wise to check any medications you might be taking to see if memory problems are listed as a side effect.
  • Yes Sandra C-1, C-2 issues can cause memory problems. I'm not saying this is causing yours. I will send you a PM shortly.

  • sandisandi Posts: 6,343
    edited 05/19/2013 - 5:17 AM
    Hi Kiki
    I didn't know that C1-C2 could cause memory issues. I've never heard of that before. I would be interested to learn too if you would care to share.
  • patrain17ppatrain17 Ottawa area, CanadaPosts: 103
    edited 05/19/2013 - 2:02 PM
    I'm no expert, but I think pain will often trigger concentration problems. As for the memory loss, I'm not sure your neck pain is the culprit although a lot of problems can be triggered by bad neck conditions. I am a proof of that.

    If I were you, I'd look into that. You could first talk with your GP if you have one and then he could refer you to a neuro. The neuro will be able to tell you if it's really possible and then investigate on the cause.

    Take care of yourself Sandralee because if you don't, nobody will!

  • charlie6017charlie6017 Posts: 412
    edited 05/19/2013 - 3:20 PM
    I, too, am finding that I am having substantial short-term memory issues, although I can't firmly say that it's at C1 or C2. My latest imaging shows some deterioration at the levels above my fused areas in the neck, but not horrible. I also have been taking tramadol and flexiril and have been taking them for some time. Personally, my entire spine is a dumpster fire so my issue with this could be several different reasons.

  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    Heck I just thought it was because I'm getting old, I never thought of it being related to my spine issues.
    I do know when I was taking Gabapentin for nerve pain it did indeed affect my short term memory.
    Nonetheless sandralee, you brought up an interesting point.

  • Hi Sandi

    Here is some information on it.

    , Brain stem: The part of the central nervous system that connects the brain to the spinal cord. It is responsible for regulating your heart rate, blood pressure, digestion and breathing. It also regulates when you sleep and wake. There is some evidence that the bottom portion of the brain stem can descend into the center of the atlas bone and can be directly affected by the Atlas Subluxation Complex.


    Here is an exerpt from an article called

    How The Spine Influences The Nervous System

    At the end is the website it's on. There are several articles on the page so I cut and pasted it so it would be easier to locate

    What if the nerves are not functioning at their best? For example, what if the nerves that control and coordinate the stomach are irritated? Could there be overproduction of acid, indigestion, heartburn? You bet. The one thing that most strongly influences the health and function of the nervous sytem is the spine. The spine consists of 24 moveable bones that surround and protect the delicate nervous system. But because the spine is so flexible, it can also misalign and become fixed, which irritates the nerves that exit between each bone of the spine. These nerves have target organs that they travel to in order to contol and coordinate their function. If the nerve suffers, the target organ will be affected to the same extent. Some more examples of this might be: the fifth bone in the neck strongly affects the muscles of the neck, shoulders, and arms; the second bone in the upper back influences the nerves to the heart, blood and lymph to the chest,shoulders, arms, and hands; the eighth bone in the back influences the stomach, food allergies, and the pancreas; the second bone in the lower back influences the bladder, colon, and small intestines. Did you know that neck problems can be a source of ringing in the ears, upset stomach, high blood pressure, headaches, blurred vision, loss of balance or coordination, nausea, problems concentrating, short term memory loss, moodiness, irritability, depression? To get you thinking about this, search on http://www.webmd.com/ for a hypertension study that proved a good upper cervical adjustment to the top of the neck lowered blood pressure. (Note: See reprint of article below)

  • patrain17ppatrain17 Ottawa area, CanadaPosts: 103
    I've had most of these symptoms most of my life Kiki, but never really thought me losing things all the time and searching for them and getting frustrated about it could be related to my cervical condition (brainstem compression due to basilar invagination). Maybe I was in denial and tired of always blaming my condition for all my health problems.
    Thanks enlightening us and for putting things back in perspective for me!
  • Hi Patrain, I'm so glad you found it helpful. It's so interesting. I found it helpful as well. :-)

  • Wow, that made for some interesting reading. Thank you for the link and the information. Got more reading to do, I learned something new today.
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    Thanks kiki for digging into that and posting, very interesting. Like sandi said, "got more reading to do........"
    Hope you all have a great day!
  • charlie6017charlie6017 Posts: 412
    edited 05/20/2013 - 3:17 AM
    Thanks so much Kiki! :-)

    Welcome to Spine-Health, Sandralee!

  • I'm so glad people are appreciating the information!! It's quite fascinating. Charm, when I was 36 my doctor and ex husband told me that I would repeat what I just said alot. I had absolutely no idea. I was freaked out about that. I couldn't believe I didn't know I was doing that. It is scary. Especially when you don't understand it or have any idea why it's happening. Just like Anelson said with the new ADD symptoms.
  • I do have cervical issues but not pain and nothing being treated in this area right now but I had thoracic microdiscectomy on May 24, 2012 and have had many complications and chronic pain since surgery. I also had 4 lamenectomies at L4-5 in 1994 and 2 in 2008. I have noticed along with my family and co-workers that my memory has been horrible and it scares me. I will forget that I put a pan of grease on stove. I have forgotten that water was running in kitchen sink and flooded the floor 3 times. I got a phone call from my grandsons daycare that he needed his medication and I completely forgot to call my husband and tell him to take it to them. Very serious issues that scare me like taking my medications and forgetting that I had taken them and now have in daily medication holders and take in front of my daughter to she can remind me. I dont know what is happening. Maybe the medications I am on. I worked in doctors office and it became a huge issue when I would forget name or number before I even wrote it down. I would have to write down list of supplies doctor needed or I wold forget them. I dont know what is going on but it is scareing me :(

  • I have been there as well, everyone. I have trouble at times remembering which medications I have taken at times during the day. I had my bathroom faucet running to fill sink to shave after showering and forgot to shut it off before stepping into the shower. After I shut shower off, I had water everywhere! I lose track of conversations mid-sentence at times.

    Like Shandra, I wonder what I'll be like when I turn 70--that's 28 years away! Ugh.

    We just have to deal......it is what it is. Have a great day, everyone!

  • charlie6017charlie6017 Posts: 412
    edited 05/21/2013 - 5:23 AM
    I totally understand. Not to think that we have to sit back and to "let it go", I just am not sure even where to begin because it seems to be a widespread issue with us folks with severe spine issues.

    I would love a solution! :-)

  • terror8396tterror8396 Posts: 1,832
    edited 05/21/2013 - 6:21 AM
    i believe memory issues at least in part are due to the medicines that we take, specifically narcotics and nerve meds. This is documented on the medicine side effects that one can access on the computer.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • Lili_InuLLili_Inu Posts: 633
    edited 05/21/2013 - 6:54 AM
    I don't take medication at all except for an occasional valium to sleep. I also suffer from short-term memory loss. It is difficult to understand the reason behind it, but I find it difficult to focus at times. This could also be symptom of anxiety, which I definitely have.
    2011 ACDF C5-6 for Spondylosis with Myleopathy
    2012 L4-5 herniated disc and hernated disc at C4/5 2013 Taking Amitriptyline for headaches
  • Kiki48KKiki48 Posts: 196
    edited 05/21/2013 - 7:42 AM
    I think depending on what meds you are on and how they affect you could be a factor with some. Not all. I think what really is causing someones cognitive issues with spine patients is often dismissed because they are on meds, in pain, age, just life, it happens to everyone once in awhile. The hard part is how do you determine what is what? When it is something you haven't experience before Or the level of what you experience gets higher for no apparent reason. I have talked with people who when they're spine came back into alignement without surgery their cognitive functions improved. But it took awhile. Interesting stuff.
  • Lucy, I know folks who don't take meds except asprin, Advil who have the cognitive issues as well.

  • post me an e-mail address of studies that show that back problems cause memory problems. i would like to see them because i don't think that is the root cause. if one is inactive and does not do anything, the brain and memory atrophies just like not using muscles. by working and teaching, i keep myself mentally active. depression can also cause problems with memory and mental sharpness as does lack of sleep.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • patrain17ppatrain17 Ottawa area, CanadaPosts: 103
    I'm no expert, but being a major cervical patient, considering my condition and what I've been through, I believe that there is a part of the problem that comes from the cervical issues. I also believe that a big part of the problem could be from medication use. I tend to agree with "terror" also in that being active with help a lot. When I went back to work 4 months after my surgeries, it did a lot for my rehab. I had to take care of 25-30 teens who badly needed me and I had to teach Math three times a day. When I'm teaching and active everything goes pretty well as it did before. It's the other part of my job that I find hard now. Having to sit still and concentrate to grade copies is the worst for me. I rarely am able to go through more than 3-4 copies at a time and yes I tend to lose things a lot and I often go round and round for nothing, but that could also be the aging process starting to come in.
    Finally, I think that if you are very concerned about your memory problem and if it's a major issue in your life, you should consult as soon as possible. The neck problem might not be the root of the problem, just another issue that makes it worst.
    I hope I'm not offending anyone with my comments, I just want to give some input here.
  • charlie6017charlie6017 Posts: 412
    edited 05/21/2013 - 1:39 PM
    Lots of great discussion, and I think everyone here is making excellent, solid points. I'll give you some input into my particular situation.

    As quite a few of you here know, I have had several fusions. 4 levels in my cervical spine, 2 at lumbar. I have been taking tramadol for the better part of 2 years at max dose of 8 daily, with flexiril as the muscle relaxer. The meds alone can contribute to cognitive issues, true. I have fought depression for over 10 years and take cymbalta for that along with seroquel.

    Other issues at hand other than dealing with daily pain can cloud things........a pending disability case along with the financial stress that usually goes hand in hand. Keeping up with a special needs child and making sure he has everything he needs and trying to help my Mother, who is in assisted living.

    One thing that I did notice though. When I was still working, driving my school bus before I had to stop---I began to notice that I was making simple mistakes at a somewhat higher frequency. Simple things such as inadvertently missing a drop-off stop at a kid's house, thinking he/she wasn't on that day. Making a left turn as opposed to a right when I had correctly executed that move dozens of times before, just basic stuff. These were things that I had stayed on top of and just didn't do. I realize no one is perfect, but I felt I was losing the usual "sharpness" that I normally had. This was all this previous school year (2011-2012) after I had my last cervical fusion in July 2011.

    Just a little insight into my particular situation.

  • to me it goes back to the discussion of chronic pain causing death and memory issues. to me, both are moot points. there are not causes of either. one can die indirectly from chronic pain like suicide and the same with memory. inactivity and depression cause memory issues along with meds. narcotics and nerve meds and muscle relaxers have a great deal to do with memory loss. but a herniated disc or stenosis in itself do not cause death or memory issues. this is my opinion and i still would like to see an article from a reputable doctor about how chronic pain causes death or memory issues. there are all sorts of research out there with chronic pain.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • My doctor is extrememly retutable. I think you should take your time and do your own research and determine what you like.
  • terror8396tterror8396 Posts: 1,832
    edited 05/22/2013 - 4:54 AM
    web md states that chronic pain can cause distractions with the mind that cause memory problems. these are studies not by one doctor but a bunch of them. once again, 95% of the studies that i read about when i googled state that the memory problems are caused by distractions and lack of sleep. just because you have a doctor does not mean that he has done extensive research on the subject. once again, the majority of articles that i read state that chronic pain in itself do not cause memory issues, it is the peripheral issues like lack of concentration, lack of sleep, medicines are the main issues but this is like arguing about the benefits of medical marajuana, therefore if you want to believe it then it is your perogrative to do so. it seems like some people blame chronic pain for all sorts of ills in their lives. i think of chronic pain as just that pain and it does not cause anything directly in my life. it is there, i ignore it as best as i can and i don't blame it for anything in my life. to me it is like blaming a kid's bad home life for his bad behavior or bad grades. one does not look at the outside factors one looks inside. do if a kid is a behavior problem or gets bad grades, it is his fault, not his family's fault. therefore chronic pain is not to blame for my problems in my life, i am the blame if i have a problem. it's like blaming society for people being poor. i blame the individual. one can go to school and get a degree and a better job instead of being a dropout. i am getting off the subject but you get my jest. i believe that we must stop blaming chronic pain for our problems.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • I'm not getting in an argument with you Jon. It' pointless! I put the information up there you can either take it or leave it but don't be insulting about it!
  • jee
    i think that is what i said in my post if you read it carefully. instead of getting hostile about my views you need to read mine objecitvely.. i said it was up to you but the research i did convinced me of the opposite. once again your hostility towards me is clouding your reading of what i said. this is the same problem some of you have had with my other posts. they had to close them down because some of you refuse to get the point i am making.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • It is okay to make a point then move on. You have to allow each individual to have their point, and accept that we are all different and think, believe different things. There is no need to direct the responses to one individual or single them out. If you make a point in a conversation then move on. The singling out of individuals stops now. In a debate or conversation you say what you need to say, and then that is all you need. There is no reason to use words like YOU, as then your making a attempt to single someone out, and that won't happen here. Bottom line make your point and move on. If someone doesn't like the thread then move on, there are plenty of threads on sh to read. NO one needs to always prove someone wrong, and there is a lot of that going on and it needs to stops now. I would rather see logical conversations than all threads locked because no one can have a logical conversation. If you don't believe any of the information being offered then it is your prerogative and more than likely no matter what information is offered up, your not going to believe it. This goes for both sides of the conversations. Sense your not going to either learn something from either side of the conversation and want to argue maybe it is best to move on to another topic, or let the thread just die off. But there is no sense in continuing to argue your point till someone gives. We all have to accept there will be points put on Sh we don't necessarily agree with, so move on to those that are more our style, as we know there are plenty of threads to read.
  • patrain17ppatrain17 Ottawa area, CanadaPosts: 103
    edited 05/22/2013 - 6:39 AM
    terror, I have to tell you that certain spine conditions can cause death. The condition for which I had surgery is basilar invagination. Most articles on the Internet state that the first symptom maybe death and my surgeon also told me that. Of course, a lot of other symptoms comes with the condition and I believe that if you can die from it, it can certainly have an effect on your memory. Just something to think about again.
    Here's the link to one article on Basilar Invagination :
    As you will see, the condition affects the brain in a lot of ways.
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