Sudden amnesia resulting in pain relief: the relationship between memory and pain

Pain. 2007 Nov;132(1-2):206-10. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2007.06.025. Epub 2007 Aug 30.


Nociceptive pain and its emotional component can result in the development of a "chronic pain memory". This report describes two patients who had long histories of chronic pain and opioid dependence. Both patients experienced sudden memory loss that was followed by significant pain reduction and an eradication of their need for opioid management. Neural centers involved in sensory pain, its affective component, opioid dependence, and memory overlap in the brain and share common pathways. The anterior cingulate cortex, the insular cortex, and the amygdala are examples of regions implicated in both pain and memory. One of the patients in the report experienced multiple seizure episodes, which may have contributed to memory loss and pain relief. The role of electroconvulsive therapy as it relates to amnesia and pain is reviewed. Questions are raised regarding whether therapies that address the memory component of pain may have a role in the treatment of long-term chronic pain patients.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Amnesia / physiopathology*
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Statistics as Topic