Nav: Home

New study to investigate role of sleep in chronic pain

December 05, 2016

SPOKANE, Wash. - Washington State University will lead a study to understand the relationship between sleep and chronic pain, part of a nationwide effort to address the rising abuse of opioid pain relievers and expand the arsenal of non-drug treatment options.

"Physicians are being pressured to stop prescribing so many opioids," said Marian Wilson, assistant professor in the WSU College of Nursing and lead investigator on the study. New prescription guidelines issued this year by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend providers limit the use of opioids in patients with chronic pain, she said.

"It's not fair to start cutting longtime opioid users off of their medications without giving them some effective alternatives," she said.

The relationship between sleep and pain has not been adequately studied, she said: "There's a small body of literature that suggests that pain and sleep correlate -- bad sleep goes with bad pain -- but we don't know for sure which comes first. 'Is my pain worse because I've slept poorly, or was my pain so bad that I couldn't sleep?'"

Subproject of veterans hypnosis-pain study

Wilson has joined with colleagues at WSU Health Sciences Spokane and the University of Washington's Department of Rehabilitation Medicine on a study funded with a new two-year, $305,651 supplemental grant from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The grant allows Wilson to run the study as a subproject of a larger NIH-funded project led by pain experts Mark Jensen, a UW professor, and Rhonda Williams, a UW associate professor and psychologist with the U.S. Veterans Administration Puget Sound Healthcare System. Sleep expertise will be contributed by Wilson's WSU co-investigator Hans Van Dongen, professor in the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine and director of the Sleep and Performance Research Center.

The parent UW study evaluates the efficacy of self-hypnosis and mindfulness meditation training interventions to treat chronic pain in 240 military veterans.

The WSU subproject will collect additional data on a pool of 135 military veterans recruited from the parent study. Participants will complete sleep surveys and wear sleep monitoring devices for a week at three separate times: just before their intervention, immediately afterward and three months post-intervention.

Sleep data will be paired with pain-related data from the parent study to see if any improvements in pain are preceded or followed by improvements in sleep, or whether they happen at the same time. Insights will form a first step toward development of sleep treatments to help alleviate chronic pain.

Passionate about pain management

Wilson was an oncology (cancer treatment) nurse for 11 years before her passion for chronic pain management guided her to a new calling as nurse scientist.

While pursuing a Ph.D. in nursing at WSU, she evaluated a new program that addressed overuse of a hospital emergency department by patients with chronic pain who were seeking opioids. The program, which referred these patients back to their primary care providers, was considered a success in that it reduced the frequency of emergency department visits in this group of patients.

Yet, the project left Wilson feeling that more could be done to address the needs of individuals with chronic pain, including new ways to manage symptoms without medications. This led to her dissertation research on the effectiveness of an online self-management program for people with chronic pain, which she found resulted in reduced opioid use and misuse.

Opioids too readily prescribed

More recently, she conducted a study that offered the same online program to people with chronic pain who receive methadone replacement treatment for opioid addiction. She did in-depth interviews with some participants to better understand why some end up addicted and what could be done to better manage their pain and addiction symptoms.

While the results of those studies haven't been fully analyzed, it is clear to Wilson that something has to change.

"We're sending people home from tooth extractions and minor surgeries with a month's supply of opioids," she said, adding that as little as two weeks of daily opioid use can cause physical dependence.

"As a result, we've got opioids in almost every house in America and people becoming addicts and ending up in the methadone clinic," she said. "Let's do what we can to prevent this from happening."
-end-


Washington State University

Related Chronic Pain Articles:

Breastfeeding may protect against chronic pain after Caesarean section
Breastfeeding after a Caesarean section (C-section) may help manage pain, with mothers who breastfed their babies for at least two months after the operation three times less likely to experience persistent pain compared to those who breastfed for less than two months, according to new research being presented at this year's Euroanaesthesia Congress in Geneva (June 3-5).
Unexpected mechanism behind chronic nerve pain
It has long been assumed that chronic nerve pain is caused by hypersensitivity in the neurons that transmit pain.
Chronic pain amplifies the brain's reaction to new injuries
Chronic pain in any one body part may distort the intensity with which a key brain region perceives pain everywhere else.
How doubts about getting better influence chronic pain treatment success
A leading psychology professor at The University of Texas at Arlington has focused international attention on how a chronic pain patient's irrational doubts about never getting better can influence both his reactions to pain and even treatment outcomes.
New study finds reading can help with chronic pain
A study conducted by researchers from the University of Liverpool, The Reader and the Royal Liverpool University Hospitals Trust, and funded by the British Academy, has found that shared reading (SR) can be a useful therapy for chronic pain sufferers.
Can staying active help to prevent chronic pain? Physical activity affects pain modulation in older adults
Older adults with higher levels of physical activity have pain modulation patterns that might help lower their risk of developing chronic pain, reports a study in PAIN®, the official publication of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP).
Poor and less educated suffer the most from chronic pain
Poorer and less-educated older Americans are more like to suffer from chronic pain than those with greater wealth and more education, but the disparity between the two groups is much greater than previously thought, climbing as high as 370 percent in some categories, according to new research by a University at Buffalo medical sociologist.
New study to investigate role of sleep in chronic pain
Washington State University will lead a study to understand the relationship between sleep and chronic pain, part of a nationwide effort to address the rising abuse of opioid pain relievers and expand the arsenal of non-drug treatment options.
UK study to help chronic pain sufferers back to work
Researchers from the University of Warwick's Medical School are leading a novel study to explore ways of helping people with chronic pain back to work.
Chronic pain linked to partners of people with depression
Partners of people with depression are more likely to suffer from chronic pain, research from the University of Edinburgh has found.

Related Chronic Pain Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...