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Study unravels interplay between sleep, chronic pain, and spinal cord stimulation

Original Article By: Gisele Galoustian

Summarized By: Neurobit

A study conducted by researchers from Florida Atlantic University's Schmidt College of Medicine and Albany Medical Center aimed to better understand the effect of spinal cord stimulation on chronic pain and sleep. Chronic pain is a common reason why individuals seek medical help and is estimated to affect 65 million adults in the United States. A significant number of these individuals also suffer from sleep disturbances, which may exacerbate pain. Spinal cord stimulation, an implantable device that sends low levels of electricity directly into the spinal cord to relieve pain, is one treatment option that has shown to improve aspects of sleep and treat various chronic pain conditions.

The study involved participants completing certified outcome measures regarding sleep, pain, functional status, and quality of life both pre-operatively and either 6 months or a year post-operatively. The researchers used the insomnia severity index, a clinical screening tool that assesses the severity of nighttime and daytime components of insomnia, to evaluate the minimally clinical important difference, which is the smallest noticeable change that a patient perceives as significant.

The results showed that 39.1% of the participants had an improvement in insomnia severity index of 30% or more, and 28.1% of the participants had an improvement in day-time sleepiness of 30% or more as measured by the Epworth sleepiness scale. The study revealed correlations between sleep and both pain and depression, but no correlation between sleep and the success of spinal cord stimulation.

"The relationship between pain and sleep is complex and poorly understood," said Julie Pilitsis, senior author of the study. "By recognizing the intersection of sleep disorders and chronic pain, treatment plans can be more focused and lead to drastic improvements in overall health." The study highlights the importance of considering the interplay between sleep and chronic pain in patients undergoing spinal cord stimulation. Further studies on minimally clinical important difference thresholds are needed to improve the assessment of the clinical response to spinal cord stimulation and gain a better understanding of the type of patients most likely to benefit from the treatment.


Galoustian, G. (2023, January 30). Study unravels interplay between sleep, chronic pain and spinal cord stimulation: Researchers successfully measure treatment effects on patients' lives. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from

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