The Impact of Sleep Disturbances on Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain

New research by Cathrine Austad, MD (Department of Rheumatology Diakonhjemmet Hospital, Oslo, Norway) calls attention the impact of sleep disturbances on pain and functional status in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients. This new research, presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, found poor sleep quality to be independently associated with increased pain. See:

Sleep disturbances in RA – most likely due to factors such as inflammation, corticosteroid usage or pain itself- has been a relatively understudied issue. Based on these findings, Dr. Austad and her team suggest that clinicians address sleep disturbances with RA patients in their daily practice. In doing so, physicians might help improve sleep quality and reduce the effects of RA. Theodore A. Omachi, MD, assistant professor at University of California San Francisco School of Medicine predicts that”…addressing this issue more directly may allow providers to take a large step forward in treatment.”

At Kantor & Kantor, many of our clients living with RA have been adversely affected by the various painful (and cognitive) symptoms of their illness. Although a challenging and complex task, addressing and improving sleep patterns could potentially ease some of the pain and discomfort associated with RA. Living with an autoimmune disease can present many debilitating struggles. Unfortunately, restful sleep is one of them.

In 2011, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Nursing questioned 162 people with RA and found that their pain and fatigue levels were higher during days when they didn’t sleep well the night before. See: Leading researcher on this study, Faith S. Luyster, Ph.D., assistant professor, School of Nursing, explained that “not sleeping well at night can contribute to greater pain sensitivity and fatigue during the day, which in turn can limit a patient’s ability to engage in activities of daily living and discretionary activities.”

Though not effective for everyone, there are many suggested techniques for improving quality of sleep for patients with RA. Read more about them here:

As attorneys who represent clients who have been denied Long Term Disability benefits for RA, we understand how life changing this illness can be. If you have questions about your RA and Long Term Disability benefits, do not hesitate to call us for a no-cost consultation. We work on a contingency basis, meaning that we do not collect a fee unless we get your claim paid.

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