• Chronic back pain and sleep disorders often go hand in hand
• Physiotherapy and yoga reduce the need for pain relievers
• Pain-relieving regeneration is not possible without sleep
March 15: Back Health Day
On this annual theme day, the focus was again on the key role of the back for a vital, fulfilling life. Sleep behavior is particularly important for a back-friendly life – in more ways than one: chronic back pain and sleep disorders often occur together, the combination of medicinal treatments can be dangerous. A holistic approach is designed to prevent this risk.
Sleepless nights are not uncommon for people with chronic lower back pain. According to research, 59% of those affected suffer from poor sleep, 53% of them live with insomnia. In addition to reduced quality of life, this results in a particularly sensitive problem: since both chronic pain and sleep problems are often treated pharmaceutically, a combination of medications can result in a whole series of serious side effects. Anyone taking painkillers and sleeping pills simultaneously exposes themselves to serious risks. In the worst case, it can even lead to a fatal overdose.
Physiotherapy and yoga: effective against sleep disorders and back pain
The Boston Medical Center recommends a risk-free, yet effective alternative to these medicines: in a study, both yoga and physical therapy proved to be effective methods for treating back pain, but also for getting a grip on chronic sleep disorders. The reasons for the choice of these methods were previous research results, according to which yoga and physiotherapy are similarly effective in terms of pain reduction and functional improvement.
320 adults with chronic back pain took part in the BMC study, of which over 90% suffered from poor sleep. The test subjects were divided into three groups and each treated with different measures: While reading material was allocated to the control group, the other two groups received weekly physiotherapy or yoga classes. The experiment lasted 12 weeks. During this time, the sleep quality of the participants was checked several times and checked again a year later. The result: both yoga and physiotherapy treatment showed a significant improvement in sleep quality that persisted even a year later. In addition to improving the symptoms, the need for painkillers also decreased.
Holistically effective instead of risky
“With holistic therapy measures, one can avoid the risk of addiction to conventional medication, and still enable patients to live a safe but also painless life,” says Eric Roseen from the Boston Medical Center.
The team led by Roseen shows that patients with chronic pain and sleeping problems can also be harmed health wise, since regeneration cannot fully take place at night.
Based on their observations, the researchers recommend the treating physicians to question patients with chronic back pain regarding the quality of sleep, and help to improve it if necessary. In general, bearing in mind the high risk potential that comes from a combination of pain and sleep medication, non-pharmacological approaches should be considered.
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