Thursday, February 13, 2014

Non-Restorative Sleep May Lead To Pain In Older Adults

New researcher indicates that "non-restorative sleep" is the biggest risk factor for the development of widespread pain in older adults.

Widespread pain that affects different parts of the body, a primary characteristic of fibromyalgia, affects 15 percent of women and 10 percent of men over age 50 according to previous studies.
The researchers collected data on pain, psychological and physical health, lifestyle and demographic information from 4,326 adults over the age of 50 who were free of widespread pain at the start of the study (1562 subjects reported no pain and 2764 had some pain). These participants were followed up three years later for the development of widespread pain.

The results, published Feb. 13 in Arthritis & Rheumatology, show that restless sleep as well as anxiety, memory problems and poor health play a role in the development of this type of pain. Specifically, The researchers found that pain status, anxiety, physical health-related quality of life, cognitive complaint and non-restorative sleep were all associated with increased risk of widespread pain development, after adjusting for osteoarthritis (OA).

Three years after the study began the researchers found that 19 percent of the participants had new widespread pain which was worse for those who had some pain at the beginning of the study; of those with some prior pain, 25 percent had new widespread pain. Meanwhile, 8 percent of those with no pain at the start of the study had widespread pain three years later.

Dr John McBeth from the Arthritis Research UK Primary Care Centre at Keele University in Staffordshire, said: "While OA is linked to new onset of widespread pain, our findings also found that poor sleep, cognition, and physical and psychological health may increase pain risk. Combined interventions that treat both site-specific and widespread pain are needed for older adults."
The results showed that non-restorative sleep – gauged by waking up feeling tired and worn out even after getting the usual amount of sleep – "was the strongest predictor of new onset widespread pain."
"We have previously shown that among persons with widespread pain, restorative sleep predicted symptom resolution," the paper said. "Together these data suggest that sleep may offer a modifiable target to improve outcome in this patient group."

Increasing age was linked to a lower chance of developing widespread pain: muscle, bone and nerve pain is more common among older people. Up to 80 percent of people 65 and older experience some form of pain on a daily basis, according to the news release.
While the study finds an association between poor sleep and widespread pain, it does not establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship.

The sleep centers directed by Jerald H. Simmons, MD utilize advanced methods to properly diagnose and treat patients suffering from non-restorative sleep and fibromyalgia.
Dr. Simmons concludes that "In the future we will look back and see how much we didn't understand, but unless we embrace the knowledge of our experience we will never reach that future perspective."
For more information on sleep disorders and the sleep centers of  Dr. Simmons visit