Study: Restless Sleep Can Lead to Chronic Pain in Older Adults

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10-surprising-health-benefits-of-sex-s11-sleeping-coupleA night of tossing and turning is the strongest predictor of also developing widespread pain, according to a new study on adults over the age of 50.

Research published in Arthritis & Rheumatology, which is a journal of the American College of Rheumatology, finds that poor sleep is the strongest independent factor for making it more likely that a person older than 50 would develop chronic pain.

Dr. Ross Wilkie, a researcher with the Arthritis Research U.K. Primary Care Center of Keele University in Staffordshire and the study’s senior author, tells Reuters, “In this study, reporting musculoskeletal pain was common with just under half of participants reporting some pain and one quarter reporting widespread pain. Non-restorative sleep was the strongest predictor of new onset widespread pain.”

The  investigation included data on 4,326 adults from North Staffordshire, England. All were over age 50 and free of widespread pain at the start of the study, although 2,764 had some localized pain. They were asked questions on all aspects of their health and lifestyles, and three years later were asked the same questions.

Those reporting poor, “non-restorative” sleep were almost twice as likely to experience the onset of widespread pain, compared to people without sleep problems. Other risk factors included those with previous pain problems, as well as those who reported other physical and psychological problems.

Currently, more research is needed to understand the relationship between lack of sleep and pain, as well as the correlation with age.

Widespread pain that affects different parts of the body, the main characteristic of fibromyalgia, affects more than 12 million Americans according to WebMD and more specifically, 15 percent of women and 10 percent of men over age 50.

“Currently the management and treatment of musculoskeletal pain in older adults is suboptimal,” the researchers wrote. They also suggest taking a combined intervention of pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments to improve outcome.

S.C. Rhyne is a blogger and novelist in New York City. Follow the author on twitter @ReporterandGirl or on Facebook.com/TheReporterandTheGirl and visit her website at www.SCRhyne.com

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