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Memory loss vs Chronic pain and medication,

jj-from montrealjjj-from montreal Posts: 60
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:21 AM in Chronic Pain
I’m sure you heard the term “I’m losing my mind” well that’s not to far from the truth.
The so called specialists are trying to convince me that I’m depressed. ,and because I’m depressed its affecting my memory. I want you to know this 12 minute diagnosis was given to me after waiting 7 months for this appointment, Hummer me I said give me a c-t scan just to see if I still have a brain. And that there is nothing growing in/and or on it..
He agreed to C-T scan so that was done now I’m waiting to see if my brain is still there.
I personally do not think of myself of being depressed this pain thing is not knew to me, I have chronic pain for over 10 yrs now, I think I’m kind of used to it by now, as for the medication I am taking , once again nothing new been on both for years, so why now is my memory becoming such a problem
I’m sacred
A little back ground;
I’m a 48yrs old male, I have moderate to severe chronic pain everyday of my life for the past10 years,
I was diagnosed with sever stinosis in the neck, severe D.D.D
At 37 I had to have a lamanectomy from C3 to C7 inclusive, do to herniated disc that affected my spinal cord. The doctors have made it very clear that there is real nothing left to try, medically.
Presently I can not feel with my hands, no sensation, I have pain from my head to my toes. I have been on every type of pain medication and all stopped working after a while
Now I take Lyrica and and medical marijuana
(My advice to the world ,” acceptance, never give up, keep your self occupied . get physiological help, just to put things into prospective. Try to smile)


  • It could be age, my mother who is about to be 53 forgets things freqently but is all around in good shape and doing well. Even I forget thing at 28 years old. it depends what meds you take whether thats to blame but it could be, I'm pretty sure benzo's are supposed to effect memory. I am on valium but rarely take them so I am not sure. I wouldnt worry too much about it. Good luck.

    *Edit* I didnt see you are on medical marijuana, I wouldnt be surprised if that had something to do with it. When I was younger, around 19 or 20 and smoked marijuana frequently it definetly effected my memory. I wonder how marijuana would work for my chronic pain, 75% of pain is nerve pain down my leg and mostly in my foot, I have found oxycodone the best pain med for me, works much better on nerve pain than anything I have taken, anyways thats all, take care.
  • I have just started taking gabapentin and find it is seriously affecting my working memory and recall. I am able to process information so I know it's going into short- or long-term memory, but I am having real difficulty recalling it. This is not just forgetfulness - I can't seem to get at the information and I feel this empty space in my head where whatever is spinning around, unable to be recalled and then articulated. I am not recalling certain words as well. I am usually fairly articulate but am now unable to grab this words frm my brain.

    Working memory is a place in your brain where you process information and determine if it is important and then you send it to either short- or long-term memory. I have noticed a huge change in my ability to work information there. The other day, for instance, I was out shopping and walked into a certain store and had no idea why I was there and what I was looking for. I just did a trip around the store hoping I could remember. I found that the item I was looking for would come into my brain and then leave and then I was left, again, confused as to what I was looking for.

    I am only taking 400 mg a day and its not working anyways on my nerve pain so I am doubtful that I will be able to increase it, otr I'm going to become brain-dead.

    It's really kind of scary. I take pain meds too and am trying to take less now to really see if the gabapentin is working. At this point I'd rather go back to the pain meds only. What's the point of taking 2 drugs?
  • :) hi! i have bad memory problems and don't know what to attribute it to. it could be the opiates i have been on for over 20 years. it could be the Lyrica at 300mg a day. maybe it is the Flexeril and meds i take to try and sleep? could it be Alzheimer's? i don't know what to attribute it to but i am so worried about it. perhaps seeing what others think it is will help! Jenny :)
  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,732
    I'm glad someone brought this up. I've been on many different pain meds. since 2002, most didn't work well or had too many side effects that I couldn't handle. But I don't think there was ever a memory problem, and the meds would also include nerve meds. Now I'm taking methadone for pain. It worked well for pain and still dose. the problem is I felt as if someone chopped 30 points off my I.Q. I can't concentrate, am very irritable and I have bad short term memory loss. This all took place as soon as I started the methadone. I take 50 mg. a day. my pm doc. had me on 60mg. per day and I couldn't handle it. I do take other prescriptions, but they were never an issue. If anyone has any ideas I'd be interested in listening.
    Good luck, Jim
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • I have always had terrible memory even when I wasn't on pain meds, and I'm only 22! Heh. To JJ, I would say that medical marijuana is most likely causing your memory loss. I'm from the marijuana center of the U.S. (Berkeley,CA) so I've heard a lot of information on medical marijuana. Take care!
  • JJ,
    The difficulty is that having taken volumes of medication the passage of time itself does impact on our memories and equating this specifically to medication is problematic. It’s either one or the other, and people explain individual short term loss that I seem to have the symptoms for a long time. Incrementally with age some short term loss would be expected and where that normal range is your doctor would tell you.

    It is a concern that for us as a group the pace of change seems more apparent and it would seem strange if the medication was not having some effect rather than none. These are difficult things to compare but it can be done and would need a large base for realistic results, it is not something that is economically viable. My strategy has been to write things down and get into that mode of doing it all the time, I work where you are expected to remember things and still have lists, it does ease the apprehension of having to remember what are doing to memory which in itself can be a constant reminder of the lack of unseen ability.

    I take inordinate amounts of daily medication and expect of myself to perform normally and without restriction, this is an unattainable expectation for anyone, and I applaud my own capacity to remember the simplest of things on occasions. It is not apparent and neither do I make in known that some days are a psychedelic melange of difficulties are impeding my memory and some days I win.

    My sister expected to remember things and took umbrage at not being able to do so, not for her lists, and it put her under constant and unnecessary stress, trying to function within her expectation that we all have to adapt as time passes.

    Take care, an important topic for the future. John
  • I'm not talking about short-term memory loss that naturally occurs with age; I'm talking about what I consider severe disruption in my working memory, which is in an entirely different area of the brain. This feels like I have this blank space in my head and, honestly, at times it is really empty! I go blank. With short-term memory loss, your brain will at least drift to another thought, but with this, I seem to simply blank out. It is very, very strange, and something I have never felt before. It started about one week after I began taking gabapentin.

    I also notice an inability to grab specific words from my memory - this is similar to how I felt after surgery for about 3-6 months, which I think is a common effect of general anesthesia.

    This is not something I can be graceful about. I will be speaking to the neurologist in the next week or so and possibly will ask that he wean me off it.Sadly, I don't know where I will go from there, in terms of pain management - I am running out of options.

    I think this is an important topic too. I hope more people share their experiences with this. Thanks for your thoughts.
  • that it is the nerve pain meds. I was on Topamax (dopamax I now call it) and had exactly the same issues as you are all speaking of. Inability to finish sentences, inability to spell simple words or finish a conversation without stumbling about looking for the word that I wanted to use. It was horrible. My sister and I were both on it at the same time and we both figured out that it wasn't the marijuana that we smoked in the 70's as we previously thought that was literally making us brain dead. It was the Topamax! Now that I am off of it I can say without a doubt that it was the drug!
  • I would agree it is restricting and I have been taking them for 17 years, as you say a complete blank, and still the same concerns apply for long term use, that weaning aspect is a good thing and every medication has some side effects the balance is to find one that cover the pain adequately without such long term implications.

    It is a good thing to be more aware of the longer term issues and not take medication in volumes without some evaluation., my view is that it would be impractical to take no pills and as a consequence of that reduced the risk.

    Take care and a topic we should all be concerned about.

  • hiya

    it could be your medication, depending on how serioous your memory loss is

    Im only tramadol and my short term memory isnt very good at all anymore from taking it!
  • that is exactly right....

    "Inability to finish sentences, inability to spell simple words or finish a conversation without stumbling about looking for the word that I wanted to use. It was horrible."

    I agree completely! I'm happy to hear that when you stopped, you noticed an improvement. I will be speaking with the doctor who prescribed it soon and at this point I'm going to ask him to wean me off. Can I ask what your dosage was ar the time? Mine is only 200 mg, 2x per day and I can't imagine some of these higher doses people take! I would be completely brian dead by then!

    Thanks for the info
  • I take gabapentin and did not know it had memory loss as a side effect. My mind frequently does not seem to have a clear memory. I can sometimes visualize part of an event but then again, I lose the whole memory and a blank is there. I try to write stuff down as I forget alot. :? jade
  • as new if you get off the nerve meds. But, you do have to weigh the benefits against the side effects. I was on 100 mgs of Topamax. I had to gradually increase from 25 mgs on up. When I was on 50 mgs it was not as bad. Maybe you can talk to your doc and see if he thinks a lower dose might control your pain with less side effects. I got completely off of it but most of my pain is not nerve pain. I do not know if I would have chosen to stay stupid if it was the only thing available to control my pain. There is a very good web site that patients post what their actual side effects were/are from any given med. If you want to check it out it is really interesting. Of course, the same as here you are probably hearing mostly from people that had issues with their meds as the ones that it worked well for went on with their life. Please keep me posted after you speak to your doc. Here is the site:

  • And excellent point about the folks here who have had issue with meds vs. the ones who have moved on.

    I think its a question of what tradeoffs you are willing to make. Right now the Topomax is helping my nerve pain significantly. It is worth it for me to lose my train of thought (usually only once or twice a day) and have all food taste strangely metallic and sort of gross. I can actually go out with my friends, walk my dog and have dinner with my boyfriend without thinking about pain and how I am going to walk around the block. Worth the sacrifice.
  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,732
    J.J.,Hopey, Paulga and Painintheback, all of your symptoms are what I'm experiencing. But the big difference is I tried many different nerve pain meds but had bad side effects with all of them. Therefore it's probably been 2years since I've taken any of those. So nerve pain such as you folks are taking are not an issue with me.
    my med regiment are 50 mgs. of methadone, hydrocodone for breakthru., cymbalta 30 mgs. wellbutrin xl 150 mgs.,celebrex 200 mgs. twice a day and Valium 5 mgs. 2@ day. I think my problems started when my pm doc. Switched me from fentanyl transdermal 50 mcg/h every other day and a special made hydrocodone 25/100 4 a day to the methadone at my request. He had me on 60 mgs. and I cut it back to 50 mgs. because of side effects. Are you as scared as I am? I hope we can all get some answers. I'm 59 if that matters.
    I sure need some answers.
    Good luck, Jim
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • I have found this thread very interesting. I have periods where I struggle with memory loss and at one time stoped the gabapentin, however laster only a week without it. I presently am taking 1,500mg a day. With the added concern that my mother had early onset dementia.
    I have looked at what I can do to help this and for me this has been a return to childhood. I daily play games on the playstation 2 which has been dusted off having been reclaimed from the back of the cupboard.
    I can only manage to play for short periods, but find the games make me think and react quickly, which in turn has led to my thinking becoming quicker. I also have a DS hand held with mind training games though find this difficult to use as controls are smaller.
    Recently I have fopund my memory much improved so am going to continue with the games.
  • I take 1600 mg of gabapentin and it does help with nerve pain. I have not yet tried to go off this med so I don't know if my my memory will return. jade
  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,732
    I checked out that web site, I had a little trouble, it's actually askapatient.com. But that was close enough to get there. Thank you for that. I got a lot of info on the site effects of all my meds. (post #16) and it's likely the cymbalta is a major contributor to my memory problems. Even though 30 mg. is a relatively small dose. I've been on that long term. But the fact is the only way I would know for sure is to cut it out of my regiment. and even then it could be a combination of drugs Side effects. The site did once again confirm that every individual is different even if their medical problems are the same or close to the same. Thanks again for the askapatient.com site info. As for everyone else that's been interested in this subject, I would check it out too. the side effects were similar for most nerve meds. tomamax, lyrica, gabapentin and most of the rest.
    Good luck, Jim
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • I am actually on 60 mgs of Cymbalta which I started after stopping Topamax. I have not noticed any memory issues with the Cymbalta. It is true that everyone is different but, I was on the Topamax at the same time as both my sister and my brother in law and we all had exactly the same symptoms. I was only on methadone at the time that I started the Topamax and had been on the methadone for a while. So I quickly figured out that it was the Topamax causing my problems. When I told my sister and brother in law what my exact symptoms were (memory loss, lack of concentration, not being able to think of words and not being able to spell even simple words) they were shocked because they were experiencing the exact same thing and chalked it up to aging and too much partying when they were young. My brother in law came completely off of it and had immediate improvement. my sister came off it for about 1 week and had immediate improvement. My sister has severe nerve pain and is also a team truck driver along with her husband so she had no choice but to start taking it again. However she tries to stay at 50 mgs instead of 100. Her problems are back although not as bad as it was at 100 mgs. She does recognize that the issues are coming from the Topamax and is just waiting to have enough home time to see a doc and try something else. Sorry that I left the a out of the website but I like it because you see what people that are actually taking the med are experiencing as side effects.
  • I am a 28 year old male currently taking Tramadol for moderate neck/back pain, Vicodin for severe neck/back pain, and Amrix (Flexirol) for muscle spasms. I have L5 spondylothesis (grade 1), 3 degenerated discs (S1 to L3) with protrusion, torn ligaments, and a hairline fracture in the same area. Meds are working, but I am experiencing problems with memory loss, slurred speech. I see other people are having problems with the memory loss and forgetfulness - has anyone else experienced the slurred speech from any of these - or similar - medications? I have been dealing with all these things since a vehicle accident in Iraq (USMC) and hope to find some advice on handling these side effects (symptoms).

    Thanks for any help/advice/guidance.
  • I have a friend that took Methadone for about 3 years, she barely remembers anything from that time! She finally had to stop it because she couldn't take the side effects (memory loss, irritability), but she says it was the best pain relief she's ever gotten. Just know, you're not alone in this!
  • I hated Neurontin because I felt that I was going about my life in autopilot. I felt disconnected from it all, and once had a scary experience while driving. I was off my la la world but the rest of me made sure I got home in one piece. Never again will I put one of those capsules in my mouth.

    I do admit I feel a bit "dumbed" down with all these meds I take. I forget stuff sometimes, lose track of what I was doing, forget words, etc. I was more articulate before taking these pain meds on a regular basis. Nowadays everything I say begins with huh? :$
  • Many of the drugs that are used for nerve pain were first developed for other "brain issues." Some are anti-depressants; others are anti-convulsants. If you were reading on forums for "mental health" (depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc.) you would see that everyone has these same complaints. Some of the meds cause more of the "dumbing down" problems than others.

    There is a website called crazymeds.us that I find particularly useful when you're looking at drugs like Topomax, Cymbalta, gabapentin, etc. At least you don't feel as bad when you can't think of a word, or lose your train of thought when you know it is a common side effect of the drug.

    More joys of nerve pain.... }:)
  • in all seriousness, i take massive amounts of oxy and fenatyl and my memory has gone to the outhouse. i forget people'snames or what is worse, i take my meds then a minute or so later i can't remember if i took them or not. i believe that the memory problems are due to meds. i had an interview last week and it was a disaster because my mind couldn't cope with complex questions. i asked my dr and she believes it is meds and the lack of rem sleep. i don't sleep through the night regularly so that can also be a cause. the only way to find out is to go off my meds but that is not going to happen. i believe this is a common side effect of narcotics and other meds
    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.
  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,732
    I think your absolutely right. And I live in the same terror.
    The most important thing I can think of for people like us is to not screw up our meds. To much of some meds can be disastrous. And it can be even worse if we forget a dose or two of some meds.
    I use the m,t,w,t,f,s,s. pill boxes one for am. and one for pm.
    For all other things post it's in three different colors are a good friend.
    But I've had things like a computer tutor. And I forget everything he taught me before he gets out of the drive way.
    I've had a extremely bad time trying to get antidepressants and nerve pain meds to work but yet to limit the side effects. It took a long time for me to get off the cymbalta, witch for me was a bad drug. But the nerve pain increased to the point that I had to ask the pm. doc. to raise the amount of methadone I take by one more. The good news is I feel that I've gotten ...some... of my short term memory back. As I see it, I take way to many different prescriptions. They are all chemicals and one can effect the other and so on.
    I really think I need to see an Endocrinologist!
    Good luck, Jim
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • gabapentin i made a mistake and sold my lovely hyundai tucson whiles under the influence of gabapentin and lost 3k !! i had to come off gabapentin for other reasons but yes it can scramble your brain!
  • Sorry that happened Straker. That could have easily been any of us. I find myself calling the dog by my daughter's name a lot, or calling the dog a bird since we've had a quaker parrot for years. Yeah, I'm losing it :O

    Hey Jon, the same thing happens to me when I take my meds and right after I'm not sure if I did or not. It drives me nuts and I WON'T take another pill. I better start using those pill boxes.
  • I'm so glad this was posted, thanks jjfrommontreal!! I always did assume it was from the meds, and I also forget if I've taken my meds, and do forget to take my daily pills from time to time. I've also had problems recalling and "using my words" lol. I've thrown out bills, my license plate stickers, receipts for school... not to mention, I have to write all my appointments down on a clandar on my fridge, a calendar at work, and enter them in my PDA so I won't forget them. It drives me crazy not remembering!!!
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • no kidding! i was going to post yesterday and i forgot what i was going to post. no i remember. everyday, i can't remember if i have taken my pills or not. i know i mentioned this before , but if i can't remember, i will not take another just to be sure. there are probably times when i don't take enough because of my memory. i don't want to use pill counters because i don't like leaving pills around loose. hopefully it is meds. it sounds like a lot of us have th esame problems
    what's his name?
    oh yea
    i'm jon
    i forgot a minute
    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.
  • There is a big empty region inside my head where a large piece of my short term memory used to be...bummer. I am/was very articulate and wordy to the extreme! all gone...poof? gabapentin? a long time ago. ambien? yes and it got WAYYY WORSE!
    I hope you guys find peace and harmony in you lives that the pain and meds have traded off.
    William Garza
    Spine-Health Mod

    Welcome to Spine-Health

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