The results from a recent study that was published in the Arthritis and Rheumatism journal found that patients with Fibromyalgia have a high prevalence of sleep disturbances that play an important role in exacerbating their symptoms (no kidding, right?).
Dr. Silvia M. Bigatti, of Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis and colleagues analyzed sleep, pain, depression, and physical functioning in 600 patients with fibromyalgia syndrome. All of the patients completed an assessment at the beginning of the study; 492 were available to complete another assessment 1 year later.
The assessment revealed that 96% of the patients at the beginning of the study said that they had problems sleeping and one year later 94.7% reported the same findings.
The investigators found that none of the patient variables at the beginning of the study predicted quality of sleep.
What investigators did find was that the quality of sleep at the beginning of the study did predict the patients’ degree of pain one year later. Physical functioning at the start of the trial predicted the extent of the patient’s depression after one year.
“Past research in fibromyalgia syndrome had found a number of symptoms that are prevalent, including pain, reduced ability to perform everyday tasks, sleep problems, and depression,” Bigatti said in an interview with Reuters Health.
“It has not been clear up to now whether one of these symptoms caused the others, because they are all identified at the same time and they are all related,” she explained. “There are many practitioners (who) believe that it may be depression that causes fibromyalgia symptoms, which impacts how patients are treated in clinics. Our study shows that, in fact, depression is at the end of a cascade of symptoms that begin with sleep problems.”
“Our findings indicate that (this population) may benefit greatly from treatments, both medical and behavioral, geared toward improving sleep,” Bigatti continued.
Bigatti states that better sleep medications are available that can help this group of patients. She also says that physicians can help patients by teaching them proper sleep hygiene in conjunction with medication in order to help improve sleep.
The researchers came to the conclusion in their study that improving sleep can improve pain, depression and overall physical functioning for Fibromyalgia patients.