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Insomnia May Predict Back Pain

Insomnia May Predict Back Pain

If you suffer from insomnia, then you are nearly one-and-a-half times more likely to develop back pain as well, according to a new study by the University of Haifa in Israel.

“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,” say the researchers.

Between 60 precent to 80 precent of the adult population will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. The reasons for back pain are varied, though experts say that some 90 percent of those suffering from it have no identifiable cause.

Approximately half of back-pain sufferers experience insomnia. It is well known that insomnia increases a person’s sensitivity to pain and that those suffering from it are more likely to suffer from spontaneous pain with more intensity compared to others, but this study is the first to show a direct connection between insomnia and back pain.

The study participants were healthy, working adults who came in to Sourasky Medical Center for routine periodic health exams; a total of 2,131 people were examined between January 2003 and December 2011 at three different junctures. On average, they were 46.2 years of age, with 15.8 years of schooling, who worked an average of 9.6 hours a day.

It was found that the chances of those suffering from insomnia to also suffer from back pain were nearly 150 precent greater than among those without insomnia. The correlation between insomnia and back pain was even higher among women.

“This comprehensive study, that took place over such a long period of time, is the correct way to demonstrate the link between these two common medical phenomena,” the researchers said. “We examined healthy, employed adults, over three periods of time.”

“The reason for this is not yet known, but it’s possible that the link between the two conditions stems from a third biological factor that we haven’t yet succeeded in identifying,” they continued.

“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.”

Source: University of Haifa


Woman with insomnia and back pain photo by shutterstock.

Insomnia May Predict Back Pain

Traci Pedersen

Traci Pedersen is a professional writer with over a decade of experience. Her work consists of writing for both print and online publishers in a variety of genres including science chapter books, college and career articles, and elementary school curriculum.

APA Reference
Pedersen, T. (2018). Insomnia May Predict Back Pain. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 25, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 3 Jan 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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