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:

Researchers are developing potential treatment for chronic pain
Researchers from the University of Copenhagen have developed a new way to treat chronic pain which has been tested in mice.
Molecular link between chronic pain and depression revealed
Researchers at Hokkaido University have identified the brain mechanism linking chronic pain and depression in rats.
How chikungunya virus may cause chronic joint pain
A new method for permanently marking cells infected with chikungunya virus could reveal how the virus continues to cause joint pain for months to years after the initial infection, according to a study published Aug.
Gastroesophageal reflux associated with chronic pain in temporomandibular joint
Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) is associated with chronic, painful temporomandibular disorder -- pain in the temporomandibular joint -- and anxiety and poor sleep contribute to this association, according to a study in CMAJ.
One step closer to chronic pain relief
While effective drugs against chronic pain are not just around the corner, researchers from Aarhus University, Denmark, have succeeded in identifying a protein as a future potential target for medicinal drugs.
Gut bacteria associated with chronic pain for first time
In a paper published today in the journal Pain, a Montreal-based research team has shown, for the first time, that there are alterations in the bacteria in the gastrointestinal tracts of people with fibromyalgia.
Nearly 5.4 million cancer survivors suffer chronic pain
A new report finds about one in three cancer survivors (34.6%) reported having chronic pain, representing nearly 5.4 million cancer survivors in the United States.
New opioid speeds up recovery without increasing pain sensitivity or risk of chronic pain
A new type of non-addictive opioid developed by researchers at Tulane University and the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System accelerates recovery time from pain compared to morphine without increasing pain sensitivity, according to a new study published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation.
New target for chronic pain relief confirmed by scientists
A research group at Hiroshima University observed a potential new target for chronic pain treatment.
Menopause symptoms nearly double the risk of chronic pain
In addition to the other health conditions affected by estrogen, it has also been shown to affect pain sensitivity.
More Chronic Pain News and Chronic Pain Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.