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Lack of Sleep Makes Knee Pain Worse

Lack of Sleep Makes Knee Pain Worse

A new study suggest getting a poor night’s sleep does more than make you feel grumpy and eat more the next day.

Researchers discovered poor sleep habits among people with knee osteoarthritis (OA) appears to increase their sensitivity to pain resulting in an amplification of discomfort.

The study has been published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.

OA is a degenerative joint disease that causes pain and swelling of joints in the hand, hips, or knee — affects nearly 27 million Americans 25 years of age and older.

Experts say that roughly one third of older adults have knee OA, a leading cause of pain and disability worldwide. Researchers believe that central sensitization, which is a hypersensitivity to pain, may contribute to the clinical pain amplification in OA.

“Our study is the largest and most comprehensive examination of the relationship between sleep disturbance, catastrophizing and central sensitization in knee OA,” said lead author Claudia Campbell, Ph.D.

The current case-controlled study included 208 participants who were categorized into four groups: OA patients with insomnia, OA patients with normal sleep habits, healthy controls with insomnia, and healthy controls without a pain syndrome and normal sleep.

Seventy-two percent of the participants were female. Participants completed sleep assessments, psychological and pain evaluations, and sensory testing.

Researchers found that subjects with knee OA and insomnia had the greatest degree of central sensitization compared to the controls.

The team found patients with poor sleep and high catastrophizing scores reported increased levels of central sensitization. In turn, central sensitization was significantly associated with increased clinical pain.

Said Campbell, “While no causal processes may be determined from this study, our data suggest that those with low sleep efficiency and higher catastrophizing have the greatest central sensitization.

Understanding the intricate relationship between sleep, central sensitization, and catastrophizing has important clinical implications for treating those with chronic pain conditions such as knee OA.”

Source: Wiley/EurekAlert!

Lack of Sleep Makes Knee Pain Worse

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Lack of Sleep Makes Knee Pain Worse. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 8 Jun 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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