Chronic pain and cognition in older adults

Takeaway

  • Older adults (over 60 years) with chronic pain had lower Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) scores than their contemporaries without chronic pain, particularly in the domains of attention and executive functioning.

Why this matters

  • Chronic pain is a significant issue for global health systems that is difficult to manage in the community. Extensive research has indicated that cognition and pain may be interlinked, and several hypotheses about the potential relationship have been put forward.

  • The MoCA is a well-validated and well-used cognitive screening tool used in clinical practice and research. However, only one study to date has investigated the link between chronic pain and cognition using MoCA, in a cohort of adults aged 18 to 60; hence, whether a link exists in older adults is unknown.