Sleep Quality Affects Disability in Rheumatoid Arthritis

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The relationship between Rheumatoid Arthritis, sleep, and disability

A small study in 2009 confirmed “Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) negatively affect women’s sleep.” It’s no surprise that Rheumatoid Arthritis impacts the sleep of many patients.  Most patients could tell you why: pain, medication side effects, and emotional frustration or depression about chronic illness, chronic pain, and increasing disability.

However, a new study explores the influence of Rheumatoid Arthritis sleep problems on RA disability. Researchers made “a cross-sectional examination of the relationship between sleep quality and functional disability in 162 patients with RA.” This may sound a bit like the proverbial chicken and the egg question, but with a disease as mystifying as RA, it may be worth asking.

The new study considered the how sleep quality in a Rheumatoid Arthritis patient affects disability. This is the first time that the poor sleep associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis has been studied as a possible source for greater disability. Their conclusion: “Sleep quality has an indirect effect on functional disability through its relationship with pain severity and fatigue. Future research should investigate whether improvements in sleep can reduce disability in patients with RA.”

Importance of rest & sleep on fighting Rheumatoid Arthritis disability

Midnight launchIn the olden days, a RA patient was hospitalized and treated with cortisone to get an initial flare under control. Several days of enforced bed rest can do wonders for RA symptoms as I was reminded recently after a minor surgery. Of course, most of us can’t afford that very often.

Yet, I’ve said many times that rest – and sleep – is the most important part of treating RA after the advice and treatment of a good rheumatologist. That’s why I’ve written several other posts about sleep and RA and advocated strongly for quality bedding for Rheumatoid Arthritis patients. Getting the right bed for me made such a tremendous difference that I went back to “sleeping like a rock.” I’m so grateful for good sleep that I often call it the blessed relief. I know from the times when I could not sleep that it is even harder to manage RA without quality sleep.

More posts on Sleep and Rheumatoid Arthritis:

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Kelly Young. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 17th, 2011 at 6:00 am and is filed under Living with RA / Managing RA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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