Treating Back Pain by Getting More Sleep

Did you know that many people with back pain also suffer from insomnia? Believe it or not, it’s true – insomnia afflicts nearly 60 percent of people with lower back pain. Fortunately, evidence suggests that treating insomnia can also help alleviate back woes.

Another Reason to Get to Bed

This notion comes courtesy of a study published in the February 2019 issue of the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage. A total of 24 randomised controlled clinical trials were reviewed, allowing the authors to review data from more than 1550 people with osteoarthritis and back/neck pain. These individuals also suffered from insomnia. 

For those struggling with constant back pain, the analysis found that treatments designed to curb insomnia not only improved sleeping patterns, but also cut down on reported pain levels. 

Senior author Dr Milena Simic, a research physiotherapist in the Faculty of Health Sciences, had this to say about her team’s work; “The latest evidence suggests there is a two-way relationship between sleep and pain, meaning poorer sleep may lead to worse pain, and worse pain may lead to poorer sleep. These findings highlight that we can improve sleep in people with painful conditions, and in some cases lead directly to less pain.” 

Not all of the study’s participants enjoyed pain relief. The authors found that minor improvements in sleep had no significant impact on those living with knee osteoarthritis. The authors contend that those with living with knee, back and/or neck pain need a 30 percent improvement in sleep reap any pain-reducing benefits.

The Next Step

The researchers don’t plan on stopping here; instead, they plan on conducting further studies on this topic, involving the use of combined treatments to tackle both insomnia and chronic pain problems.

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