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Influence of sleep problems and co-occurring musculoskeletal pain on long-term prognosis of chronic low back pain: the HUNT Study

Abstract

Background We investigated the influence of sleeplessness and number of insomnia symptoms on the probability of recovery from chronic low back pain (LBP), and the possible interplay between sleeplessness and co-occurring musculoskeletal pain on this association.

Methods The study comprised data on 3712 women and 2488 men in the Norwegian HUNT study who reported chronic LBP at baseline in 1995–1997. A modified Poisson regression model was used to calculate adjusted risk ratios (RRs) for the probability of recovery from chronic LBP at follow-up in 2006–2008, associated with sleep problems and co-occurring musculoskeletal pain at baseline.

Results Compared with persons without sleeplessness, persons who often/always experienced sleeplessness had a lower probability of recovery from chronic LBP (RR 0.65, 95% CI 0.57 to 0.74 in women and RR 0.81, 95% CI 0.69 to 0.95 in men). Although there was no clear evidence of statistical interaction between sleeplessness and co-occurring musculoskeletal pain, women and men who often/always experienced sleeplessness and had ≥5 additional chronic pain sites had RRs of recovery of 0.40 (95% CI 0.33 to 0.48) and 0.59 (95% CI 0.45 to 0.78), respectively, compared with persons without sleeplessness and 1–2 chronic pain sites.

Conclusion These findings suggest that preventing or reducing sleep problems among people with chronic LBP may have the potential of improving the long-term prognosis of this condition, also among those with several additional pain sites.

  • sleep
  • low back pain
  • epidemiology
  • epidemiology of chronic diseases
  • longitudinal studies
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