Research Discovers Bidirectional Link Between Lower-Back Pain, Insomnia

December 29, 2022 11:50:01

Most people experience lower-back pain at some point in their lives, be it as a result of injury, chronic back issues, pregnancy, periods and other underlying physiological issues. Prior studies have found links between lower-back pain and a range of psychological and social factors, including body weight, gender, mood disorders and smoking habits. Despite this, identifying the origin of lower back pain is still challenging.

Now, a new study has linked lower-back pain to sleep disturbances and insomnia. Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that makes it hard for individuals to stay asleep or fall asleep. The study, which was carried out by researchers at Zhejiang University School of Medicine, was centered on better understanding the link between lower-back pain and sleep.

The researchers involved include Ge Luo, Jiachun Tao, Yuanyuan Yao, Min Yan and Tingting Wang. For their study, the investigators assessed the genetic and self-reported data of more than 400,000 individuals of European ancestry, which they obtained from UK Biobank’s GWAS study. During the study, participants had answered various questions on their sleep patterns and also completed various genetic tests.

The investigators’ analysis focused on factors linked to poor sleep quality, including long-sleep duration, insomnia, short-sleep duration and daytime sleepiness. The researchers screened the data and chose participants with genetic variants linked to various dimensions of poor sleep for their study.

To deduce a potential causal relationship between lower-back pain and poor sleep, the researchers used various techniques, including weighted median, penalized weighted median, inverse-variance weighted and maximum likelihood. They also used the Mendelian randomization technique to identify possible genetic and environmental risk factors that could cause certain conditions or overall poor health, based on genetic variations.

This led them to discover a bidirectional causal relationship between lower-back pain and genetically predicted insomnia, with each potentially causing the other. They also found that lower-back pain could cause sleepiness in the daytime.

In their paper, Luo and his colleagues emphasized the importance of sleep improvement to help manage lower back pain. These findings may, in the future, be used as a basis for further studies looking into the relationship between insomnia and poor sleep, possibly including individuals with other genetic and ethnic backgrounds. These results could also promote research into therapeutic interventions for lower-back pain that also target unhealthy sleeping patterns and insomnia.

The study’s findings were reported in “Frontiers in Neuroscience.”

Novel treatments for chronic pain are being developed by companies such as India Globalization Capital Inc. (NYSE American: IGC) from substances such as marijuana. These new treatments could change the paradigm of pain management in the coming years.

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