A direct connection between sleeplessness and back pain has been identified by researchers at the University of Haifa in Israel.
Dr. Maayan Agmon of the university´s Cheryl Spencer Department of Nursing, and Dr. Galit Armon of the Department of Psychology said that a study involving 2,131 people showed that those who had trouble sleeping were almost one-and-a-half times more likely to eventually suffer from back pain compared with those whose sleep was regular. Among women, the correlation between insomnia and back pain was even higher, the researchers said.
“After controlling for a range of variables, including socioeconomic status and lifestyle issues, we came to the conclusion that insomnia is a marker for the increased risk of back pain, though the reverse is not the case,” commented Dr. Agmon and Dr. Armon.
The study was conducted in cooperation with Prof. Shlomo Berliner and Prof. Itzhak Shapira of the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov). Subjects were an average of 46.2 years of age and were examined three times between January 2003 and December 2011.
Reporting on the findings, the University of Haifa said it was already known that insomnia increases a person´s sensitivity to pain and that those suffering from it are liable to suffer from spontaneous pain more often and with more intensity compared to others. But this new study is the first to show a direct connection between insomnia and back pain.
The findings emphasise the importance of integrating treatment for both issues, to prevent back pain and improve sleep quality, Dr. Agmon and Dr. Armon stressed.
The reason behind the connection is not yet known, but it´s possible there is a third biological factor that has not yet been identified, the scientists said.
“One possible link is stress; people suffering from insomnia generally describe their lives as stressful, so it´s almost certain that they would suffer from chronic restlessness that will increase muscle tension and reduce the number of micro-pauses in muscle activity, which leads to back pain.”