PainRelief.com Interview with:
Dr Renato Vellucci
Contract Professor University of Florence
Pain and Palliative care Clinic
University Hospital of Careggi
PainRelief.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Chronic low back pain (CLBP) is the most prevalent chronic pain (CP) condition and the leading global cause of years lived with disability. According to the axiom pain as a biopsychosocial issue, mood and sleep disturbances represent key issues. However, the impact of different analgesic therapies on quality of life (QoL) and functional recovery has been poorly assessed to date. Focusing on combination of chronic pain and sleep, they both perform a mutual reinforcement.
Pain disorganizes the sleep architecture, and disturbed and unrefreshed sleep increases spontaneous pain and lowers pain thresholds. Sleep disorders may augment stress levels, thus making it difficult for patients to perform simple tasks impairing their cognitive ability. Poor sleep may predict the growth and intensification of pain over time, with increased insomnia symptoms being both a predictor and an indicator of worse pain outcomes and physical functioning status over time. Epidemiology of chronic pain unequivocally demonstrates the role of sleep quality in the development of chronic pain.
Notwithstanding this strong two-way relationship between chronic pain and sleep, little knowledge is available about the neurochemical determinants of this interplay and therapeutical strategies to break this vicious circle. Fifty percent of people with chronic low back pain have sleeping disturbances, with an 18-fold increase in insomnia versus healthy people. A recent study investigated the relationship between sleep disturbances and back pain and found that it is two sided with sleep disturbance being associated with risk of back pain whilst back pain can also lead to sleep disturbances. Thus, it can be hypothesized that, by reducing pain and physical dysfunction, sleep quality could be improved, thus enriching the QoL of people with CLBP.
Similarly, improvements in sleep after cognitive behavioral therapy in patients with chronic pain due to osteoarthritis were associated with reduced pain. Earlier evidence suggested that tapentadol prolonged-release treatment ameliorate in parallel QoL and sleep quality in a greater proportion of patients compared to that of patients following oxycodone/naloxone prolonged- release treatment (50% versus 37.7%). Other tapentadol studies conducted in a real-life context documented, along with effective pain control, similar improvements in mental and physical health and suggested beneficial effects in terms of less night awakenings and greater percentages of patients reporting restful sleep.