2013 – Relationship Between Non-Specific Muscle Pain and Sleep Practices

Posted:Thursday, March 30, 2017

Susan Davis RN, BHSc, MClSc, RMT
Southern Cross University Lismore, NSW Australia- Masters Research Project

Introduction: Sleep problems and pain are widely experienced in the general population. Research has shown a relationship between chronic pain and poor sleep and between no pain and sleep. This research aims to investigate the relationship of mild pain and sleep problems.

Methods: Sixty seven (67) patients from an established remedial massage centre completed questionnaires. The majority (79%) of the respondents were female. The questionnaire was a combination of three aspects: general demographics and alcohol consumption; an edited version of the Brief Pain Index; and the 12 question MOS Sleep Scale (revised). Sleep results were produced from the MOS software that compared the participants to the large population (mainly USA) recorded to date. Pain was reported as a 0-10 score (10 being the most pain). Those individuals scoring over 7 were excluded from the survey. The age range was from 20-85 years. Correlational analyses were then made using Microsoft Excel, ANOVA.

Results: The overall results showed a small, but insignificant relationship. Isolating the female results produced a significant relationship, with coincidental movements of pain experience and sleep problems. This outcome is in line with previous studies on chronic pain and serious sleep problems. In the female group (n = 53), 59% fell below the average of 50 set by the MOS Sleep Problem Index (below 50 indicating sleep problems). 41% showed mild pain experience. Correlational analysis showed that increases in pain coincided with decreases in sleep quality. Correlation was r = 0.41 with a p value < 0.05 indicating a statistical significant result.

Conclusions: Although only a small study with limited detail in the questionnaires, it is concluded that the results encourage the need for further research. This research shows that there may be a progressive line of pain before the development of chronic problems that could be detection through the inclusion of sleep assessment in mild pain patients and vice versa. This has important implications for the ongoing treatment of mild pain and the methods of practice for professions that deal with mild pain such as massage therapists.