Painful Joints Influence Sleep Apnea and Sleep Quality Differently

AUGUST 01, 2016
Caitlyn Fitzpatrick
rheumatology, pain management, obstructive sleep apnea, sleep
Pain and sleep problems commonly go hand-in-hand. However, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), daytime sleepiness, and poor sleep quality are all very different things.

Australian researchers set out to identify the relationship between musculoskeletal pain and objectively-determined OSA and subjective sleep measures. Using a population of all men, the team analyzed the effects of pain on the participants’ sleep and published the results in Arthritis Care & Research.

The 360 participants, all of whom were at least 35 years old, were gathered from the Men Androgen Inflammation Lifestyle Environment and Stress Study – created in 2009 at The University of Adelaide to assess cardio-metabolic disease risk. The men had various pain spots, including in their shoulder, back, hip, knee, hand, and foot. Pain levels were determined using Computer-Assisted Telephone Interview or self-completed questionnaire. OSA is defined as a sleep disorder caused by something partly or completely blocking the upper airway, resulting in stop-and-start breathing. Participants with OSA were diagnosed based off of polysomnography (Embletta X100) results scored by 2007 AASM criteria.

The Epworth Sleepiness Scale revealed that there was no connection between OSA and pain or daytime sleepiness and pain – except for hand pain, which was associated with daytime sleepiness. In addition, having more painful joints did not impact the likelihood of OSA.

Poor sleep quality, as measured by the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, was associated with musculoskeletal pain. The number of painful joints was connected with poor sleep quality, unlike OSA and daytime sleepiness. People with five to six painful joints had worse sleep quality than those without any painful joints.

“The etiological differences between OSA-related sleep disruption and poor subjective sleep quality require further investigation,” the authors concluded.

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