Sleep Can Have a Great Impact on Arthritis Sufferers

A study in the Feb. 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that poor sleep quality correlated with higher levels of depressive symptoms, greater pain severity, increased fatigue, and greater functional disability in patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). The study suggests that addressing sleep problems via pharmacological or behavioral interventions may have a critical impact on the health and lives of patients with RA.

The study represents a cross-sectional examination of the relationship between sleep quality and functional disability in 162 patients with RA. All patients had been diagnosed with RA for at least two years.

Results show that sleep quality has an indirect effect on functional disability after considering age, gender and severity of the individual case of RA. According to the study’s results, 61 percent of patients were poor sleepers and 33 percent reported having pain that disturbed their sleep three or more times per week.

“The primary finding of our study is that poor sleep quality is associated with greater functional disability among patients with RA and this relationship may be explained by pain severity and fatigue,” said lead author Dr. Faith S. Luyster, research assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing in Pittsburgh, Pa. “These results highlight the importance of addressing sleep complaints among patients with RA. By treating sleep problems either pharmacologically or behaviorally, symptoms and activity limitations associated with RA may be reduced.”

The study’s finding that poorer sleep quality is associated with greater pain severity is consistent with recent evidence suggesting that sleep disruption may lower pain threshold and enhance pain in RA and otherwise healthy adults.

According to the National Institute of Health, RA is an inflammatory disease affecting about 1.3 million U.S. adults.  It causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in the joints.

Source: News release

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