Existing studies on cognitive impairments in chronic pain do not investigate peripheral neuropathic pain (PNP) or compare pain conditions in a satisfactory manner. Here we aimed to compare executive dysfunctions in PNP patients with fibromyalgia (FM) and healthy controls (HC). Patients who self-reported cognitive impairments were assessed according to criteria for PNP or FM. Seventy-three patients met criteria and completed testing on executive functioning and IQ measures. We also included twenty matched healthy controls. Regression models controlling for age, sex and IQ, tested associations between group category (PNP, FM or HC) and outcomes. If a substantial association was detected, we followed up with head-to-head comparisons between PNP and FM. Multivariate regression models then tested associations between executive functioning and pain type, controlling for significant confounders. Results from head-to-head comparison between pain conditions showed significant differences on years lived with pain (FM > PNP), the use of anticonvulsants (PNP > FM) and use of analgesics (PNP > FM). When controlled for all significant differences, PNP patients had significantly lower scores on an attention-demanding cued-recall task compared to FM. Poor performance on attention-demanding cued-recall task was associated with PNP, which translate into problems with retaining fast-pace or advanced information.
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