Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Poor Sleep Worsens Arthritis Patients’ Problems

Pain, fatigue, disability and depression tend to be a struggle for patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Poor quality of sleep makes each of the symptoms worse, a study in the February issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine reports.

Authors of the study believe treating sleep problems would greatly improve the health and quality of life of patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis. They proposed a treatment that combines prescription sleep drugs with cognitive-behavioral therapy. The Sleep Education Blog reports medications are a helpful short-term solution to sleeplessness; cognitive-behavioral therapy is the most effective way of treating solution insomnia.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an inflammatory disease that causes pain, swelling stiffness and loss of function in the joints. The disease affects about 1.3 million Americans, many of whom cannot carry out daily activities such as dressing, walking, grooming and writing.

The study involved 162 patients who were diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at least two years prior to the study. Patients had an average age of about 58 years, and more than three-quarters were female. At the start of the study, the subjects answered questions about sleep quality, depression, fatigue, disability and pain as well as their medical history.

Results show more than half of the patients were poor sleepers. Through analysis, researchers linked poor sleep to higher levels of depression, increased fatigue, greater pain severity and greater functional disability.

The authors of the study determined that pain and fatigue from Rheumatoid Arthritis may in turn cause sleep problems. A third of the patients reported sleep problems due to pain.

The results are similar to findings from an October study that examined patients with non-inflammatory forms of arthritis. That study found near 23 percent of patients with other forms of arthritis have sleep-related complaints.

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