Inflammatory spinal arthritis can cause significant joint pain and severely damage sleep quality. Any of the following conditions can cause individuals to experience sleep problems:
- Spondylosis (osteoarthritis)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Ankylosing spondylosis
- Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
Dr. Jimenez from Injury Medical Chiropractic and Functional Medicine Clinic gives insight into how inflammatory spinal arthritis can disrupt healthy sleep, along with some tips to help individuals with joint pain restore healthy sleep.
Inflammatory Spinal Arthritis and Sleep
First, it is not just the joint pain of arthritis that is causing sleep problems. Research is discovering that more factors could be at play. A study in the journal SLEEP examined how individuals with chronic pain, including osteoarthritis slept. What was revealed was a strong connection between chronic pain and insomnia.
Insomnia can lead to added joint pain because poor sleep can trigger inflammatory pathways that worsen arthritis pain. Plus a poor night of sleep can heighten an individual’s perception of pain the next day. Arthritis pain does not just impact the sleep of adults, but young individuals with juvenile idiopathic arthritis can also struggle with getting healthy sleep. Sleep, pain levels, and mood are strongly related.
Achieving quality sleep and a well-rested body can be done. Things to consider to help secure a healthy sleep.
Medication interference/side effects
Corticosteroids could be part of the sleep problem, as corticosteroid treatment has been linked to insomnia. If struggling to fall asleep, talk with a doctor about altering any prescribed medication regimen before sleep like taking aspirin or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory NSAID medication in its place.
Adjust sleep position to joint pain
If the neck is sore/aching rest the head on a flat pillow so the cervical spine is in a neutral position. For low back joint pain, individuals might find relief by sleeping on their back or side with the knees and hips flexed at a 90-degree angle. For hip joint stiffness, sleeping on the side with a pillow between the legs is recommended.
A firm mattress and support pillow
A firm mattress will support the body and help reduce pain. The right pillow/s are also important for healthy sleep. A lumbar and cervical pillow can help cushion tender areas.
Joint pain first thing in the morning needs time to adjust. For morning physical chores try to reschedule for later on in the day or if possible the night before. This could be fixing lunches, picking out clothes, preparing breakfast, or packing the work case, tools, etc. The extra time will reduce morning stress and allow the body to gently adjust.
Wake up and stretch
With joint pain in the morning, some gentle stretching can help. Doing some stretches before even getting out of bed will help minimize pain and allow the body to gradually prepare for movement. Follow the stretch session up with a hot shower to loosen stiff joints.
Increase Sleep Quality
Sleep problems can affect anyone even those that don’t have inflammatory spinal arthritis/joint pain. There could be other issues causing sleep problems unrelated to joint pain. If still not getting quality sleep, talk to a rheumatologist about available options.
Osteoarthritis and Exercise
Obesity is a significant risk factor in the development of osteoarthritis. This is not only from the effects of extra weight on the body’s joints but also as a result of the pro-inflammatory effects of adipose tissue. The hips and knees are the weight-bearing joints. Excessive adipose tissue on the midsection and legs have been shown to negatively impact these weight-bearing joints.
Promoting Lean Body Mass and encouraging weight loss can potentially lower the risk of osteoarthritis and improve the quality of life. Gentle exercise is regarded as safe for individuals with osteoarthritis and is a key component to improve body composition, reduce body fat mass, improve lean body mass and maintain a healthy weight. Improving body composition and utilizing exercise in weight management can have a direct and positive effect on joint health.
Dr. Alex Jimenez’s Blog Post Disclaimer
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, and sensitive health issues and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate and support directly or indirectly our clinical scope of practice.*
Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation as to how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900. The provider(s) Licensed in Texas& New Mexico*
Myers W. 9 Ways to Rise and Shine With Osteoarthritis. Everyday Health. http://www.everydayhealth.com/osteoarthritis/ways-to-rise-and-shine-with-osteoarthritis.aspx. Last updated September 25, 2014. Accessed April 18, 2017.
Watson S. Why Osteoarthritis Could Disrupt Your Sleep—and Your Partner’s. Arthritis Foundation. http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/comorbidities/sleep-insomnia/osteoarthritis-and-sleep.php. Accessed April 18, 2017.