What’s the connection between chronic pain and brain aging

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In a study that crosses borders and disciplines, researchers from China and the United States have made a significant discovery: chronic musculoskeletal pain (CMP), a condition affecting more than 40% of people worldwide, may lead to an increased risk of the brain aging faster than it normally would.

This condition, which includes chronic knee pain from knee osteoarthritis (KOA), not only makes everyday tasks more difficult but also appears to speed up the aging process in the brain.

CMP is a common issue that causes a lot of pain and can make it hard for people to move around or do their daily tasks.

It can also affect how well the brain works.

Even though a lot of people suffer from this condition, doctors and scientists still don’t fully understand why it happens.

This makes it hard to prevent or treat effectively.

However, one thing that has been noticed is that people with CMP seem to have higher levels of inflammation in their bodies, which could be making their brains age faster.

To dive deeper into this issue, a team led by Prof. Tu Yiheng from the Institute of Psychology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, along with international experts, decided to study how chronic pain, especially pain from knee osteoarthritis, relates to changes in the brain.

They used MRI scans of the brain from over 9,000 people to build a model that could tell if someone’s brain is older than their actual age.

Their findings were striking. People with knee osteoarthritis had brains that seemed older than those of people without the condition. Certain areas of the brain, like the hippocampus which is crucial for memory, were especially affected.

This suggests that the pain isn’t just a problem for the knees but could be affecting the brain and how well it works.

Even more interestingly, the researchers found a specific gene, SLC39A8, that might be the link between the pain in the knees and the brain aging faster.

This gene is active in certain cells in the brain that are involved in inflammation and brain development. This discovery points towards inflammation as a possible cause of the faster brain aging seen in people with chronic knee pain.

The implications of this research are vast. It’s not just about showing that knee pain can make your brain age faster; it’s also about providing a new way to identify people who might be at higher risk for memory problems or dementia in the future.

By understanding how chronic pain affects the brain, there may be new ways to help or prevent these problems.

This study is a collaboration that brings together experts from different fields and countries, all working towards understanding the complex ways in which our bodies and brains are connected.

The hope is that this knowledge will lead to better ways to treat chronic pain and protect brain health as we age.

If you care about brain health, please read studies about inflammation that may actually slow down cognitive decline in older people, and low vitamin D may speed up cognitive decline.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about common exercises that could protect against cognitive decline, and results showing that this MIND diet may protect your cognitive function, prevent dementia.

The research findings can be found in Nature Mental Health.

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