Dan Rhon

Many adults with low back pain also have a sleep disorder. Together, the conditions are tied to increased pain-related healthcare visits and costs, a U.S. military hospital study has found.

Investigators examined 757 patients, most with mild back pain. Participants were assessed for pain intensity and disability, along with diagnosed sleep disorders and daytime sleepiness. The average pain score was 2.4 out of 5 and average disability score 18.7 out of 100. However, 26% had a diagnosed sleep disorder, most commonly insomnia. While all factors were found to be tied to a significant rise in healthcare visits and costs, the presence of a sleep disorder had a “significant and unique effect,” independent of the other factors, reported lead researcher Daniel Rhon, D.Sc. Daytime sleepiness was found to be unrelated.

“The presence of sleep disorders is not often evaluated during the clinical management of low back pain, but could provide an important indication of risk for high pain-related healthcare use,” wrote Rhon, of Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio.