HealthDay News — A greater number of chronic pain sites is associated with an increased risk for incident all-cause dementia and Alzheimer disease, according to a study recently published in BMC Medicine.
Jing Tian, from the University of Tasmania in Hobart, Australia, and colleagues examined whether a greater number of chronic pain sites is associated with a higher risk for dementia and its subtypes in a prospective cohort study involving 356,383 participants in the U.K. Biobank. Participants were categorized as having no chronic pain; chronic pain in one, two, three, and four sites; and pain “all over the body.”
The researchers found that 4,959 participants developed dementia during a median follow-up of 13 years. A greater number of chronic pain sites was associated with an increased risk for incident all-cause dementia and Alzheimer disease in a dose-response manner (hazard ratios, 1.08 and 1.09 per one-site increase, respectively), but not vascular and frontotemporal dementia, after adjustment for sociodemographic factors, lifestyle, comorbidities, pain medications, psychological problems, and sleep factors. In a subsample of patients who underwent a fluid intelligence test, there was no significant association observed between the number of chronic pain sites and the risk for incident all-cause dementia.
“These findings suggest that chronic pain in multiple sites may represent an accessible marker to assess an individual’s dementia risk and identify ‘at-risk’ individuals at early stages,” the authors write.