Osteoarthritis: Poor Sleep Linked to More Pain

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Dr. Daniel Whibley PhD
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Epidemiology Group, School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition
University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: Older adults with osteoarthritis commonly report symptoms of pain, fatigue and poor sleep quality. Previous research has investigated how this symptoms are cross-sectionally and longitudinally associated with each other. However, no previous studies have investigated how the quality of a night’s sleep impacts on the next day’s course of pain and fatigue in this clinical population.

We found that poor sleep quality was associated with greater pain intensity and fatigue on awakening when compared to a good night’s sleep and that, over the course of the day, the effects were sustained. Although a night of better quality sleep was associated with less pain and fatigue on awakening,  these symptoms worsened more rapidly throughout the day, such that as the day progressed the effect of the previous night’s sleep became less and less important.

PainRelief.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: We can all experience fluctuations in our sleep quality and these fluctuations can impact on our experiences the following day. Our study shows that, for older adults with osteoarthritis, a night of poor sleep can exacerbate symptoms in the morning and throughout the first half of the day. However, our findings suggest that the effects of a single night of poor sleep dissipate over the course of the day. This information, if supported by further research, could inform patient advice and counselling, particularly if people are worrying about how their sleep quality may affect their osteoarthritis symptoms. As fatigue was identified as more strongly impacted by poor sleep quality, people with osteoarthritis may be encouraged to assess their sleep quality on awakening and use appropriate pacing approaches to make the most of their perceived energy levels on that day.

PainRelief.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Our study was conducted on a group of older adults with, on average, relatively good sleep quality. Replication of our findings using data supplied by people with more troublesome sleep or with specific sleep disorders would help to develop a better understanding of the impact of sleep quality on daily symptom patterns. How factors like mood and motivation are affected by sleep experiences, how these influence behaviors and how, in turn, these impact on osteoarthritis symptoms is also an area for further enquiry.

PainRelief.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: The study was supported by a grant from the Rehabilitation Research & Development Service of the VA Office of Research and Development (Award Number 1I01RX000410), and Dr Whibley was funded by a Foundation Fellowship Versus Arthritis (21742).


Transient Effects of Sleep on Next-Day Pain and Fatigue in Older Adults With Symptomatic OsteoarthritisWhibley, Daniel et al.

The Journal of Pain, Volume 0, Issue 0

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpain.2019.04.011

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Last Updated on June 22, 2019 by PainRelief.com