Addressing Pain and Medical Problems Disrupting Sleep

When addressing a sleep problem associated with chronic pain, it is important to be sure that the patient is getting the best possible treatment for their back pain and within a multidisciplinary approach. Many of the treatments aimed at improving a chronic pain sufferer's sleep-wake cycle can also be helpful in the treatment of the chronic pain overall, and vice-versa.

Another step in improving sleep is to thoroughly investigate other possible medical problems (other than the pain) that might be contributing to the sleep disorder. Some of the common medical problems associated with poor sleep include:

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  • Sleep apnea, where a person stops breathing for about 10 seconds or has reduced airflow hundreds of times during the night. The brain arouses the person from sleep in order to resume breathing, causing severely fragmented sleep and daytime sleepiness.
  • Restless legs syndrome, where a person has an extreme urge to move the legs, usually caused by uncomfortable sensations in the legs. The person may also experience involuntary jerking of the limbs during sleep and sometimes during wakefulness. These symptoms may cause difficulty in falling or remaining asleep, causing daytime tiredness or fatigue.

Successfully treating sleep disruption begins with working closely with a physician in addressing the chronic pain problem, as well as investigating any other medical conditions that might be disrupting the individual's sleep.