Individual estimates of the possible causal effect of insomnia and low back pain. The x axis shows the effect of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) on insomnia in (A) and the y axis shows the effect of SNP on low back pain; (B) shows the results of the reverse causal inference. Various methods of MR analysis were performed, including MR Egger, weighted median, inverse variance weighted (IVW), maximum likelihood (ML), and penalized weighted median. Credit: Frontiers in Neuroscience (2022). DOI: 10.3389/fnins.2022.1074605
Throughout their lives, most humans are likely to experience some form of low back pain. This pain is sometimes associated with injury, chronic back problems, medical conditions, the menstrual cycle or pregnancy, and other underlying physiological causes. In many cases, however, it is difficult to identify the origin of low back pain, despite its severity and its potential impact on the daily lives of those affected.
Some studies have found associations between lower back pain and different psychological and social factors, including gender, body weight, smoking habits, and mood disorders. More recently, research has also linked this sometimes overwhelming experience to insomnia and sleep disorders.
Researchers at Zhejiang University College of Medicine have recently conducted a study that further explores these recent findings, seeking to better understand the relationship between sleep and low back pain. Their findings, published in Frontiers in Neurosciencesuggest that there is a bidirectional causal relationship between insomnia and low back pain, where each may cause the other.
“Previous observational studies have shown that low back pain often coexists with sleep disorders, however, the causal relationship remains unclear,” Ge Luo, Yuanyuan Yao, Jiachun Tao, Tingting Wang, and Min Yan wrote in their article. “In the present study, the causal relationship was investigated between sleep disorders and low back pain. and the importance of sleep improvement in the comprehensive management of low back pain was emphasized.”
Luo and his colleagues examined the self-reported and genetic data from more than 400,000 people of European descent, collected as part of the Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS) by the UK Biobank. These people had completed genetic testing and answered a series of questions about their sleep patterns.
The investigators’ analyzes focused on different factors associated with poor sleep quality, including insomnia, long sleep duration, short sleep duration, and daytime sleepiness. Therefore, they reviewed the GWAS data and selected participants with genetic variants associated with different dimensions of sleep deprivation.
To infer a possible causal relationship between lack of sleep and low back pain, they used Mendelian Randomization (MR), a relatively new technique that allows scientists to use measured genetic variations to reveal potential genetic and environmental risk factors that could cause problems. health or specific conditions. .
Their findings highlighted a bidirectionality causal relationship between insomnia and low back pain, which means that insomnia can cause low back pain, and vice versa. In addition, they found that low back pain could cause daytime sleepiness, although not vice versa.
In the future, these results could inspire further studies exploring the relationship between poor to sleep and insomnia, potentially incorporating people with other ethnic and genetic backgrounds. In addition, the work of Luo and his colleagues could further the exploration of therapeutic interventions for low back pain that also address insomnia and unhealthy sleep patterns.
“The main results of our investigation showed a possible bidirectional causal association of genetically predicted insomnia with low back pain,” Luo and colleagues wrote in their article. “Sleep improvement may therefore be important in the comprehensive management of low back pain.”
Ge Luo et al, Causal association of sleep disturbances and low back pain: a two-sample, two-way Mendelian randomization study, Frontiers in Neuroscience (2022). DOI: 10.3389/fnins.2022.1074605
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