Sleeping Issues caused by long-term pain

Learn more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment for persistent pain

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Chronic pain refers to pain that lasts for more than 3 months, as well as beyond what would be considered normal healing time. Chronic pain is differnt from acute pain, such as that following an injury, which can develop quickly but passes. Chronic pain can be caused by a range of factors. These include nerve pain from a bone, muscle, or joint condition, as well as from cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, migraines, and following an injury or surgery. Whatever the cause of an individual’s chronic pain, it has the potential to affect sleep.

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What are the symptoms of sleeping issues caused by chronic pain?

Chronic pain can have a range of impacts and symptoms on an individual’s life. This can include impairing your strength and fitness, ability to complete usual activities at home or at work, mental health, social connections, concentration, relationships, and sleep.  Chronic pain has the potential to be a contributing factor to insomnia, a condition where it may be difficult getting to or staying asleep. Some symptoms of insomnia may include difficulty in staying or going to sleep, irregular movement during sleep, and feelings of sleepiness during waking hours.

Chronic pain which isn’t treated or managed in conjunction with a plan from your GP may disrupt your sleep.

What are the traditional treatments for sleeping issues as a result of chronic pain?

Firstly it is important to speak to your GP about putting a plan in place to manage your chronic pain. If your chronic pain is what is causing your sleeping issues, then it’s important that your pain management is assessed in conjunction with any sleeping problems. Some of the traditional treatments for managing chronic pain include:

  • Paracetamol and other over the counter pain relievers
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Antidepressants
  • Anticonvulsants or antiepileptic medicines (which can be beneficial in treatment nerve pain)
  • Seeing a psychologist
  • Seeing a physiotherapist of exercise physiologist
  • Exercise and activity within your comfort levels (such as walking, swimming, cycling, and tai chi)
  • Relaxation techniques and meditation

Medicinal cannabis and sleeping issues caused by chronic pain

If you’re experiencing sleeping issues as a result of chronic pain, it’s important to speak to your GP about putting a care plan in place. This could include managing your sleeping issues and your chronic pain as separate, but interrelated health issues. Medicinal cannabis is only available if all other treatment options have been exhausted, and eligibility is assessed on a case by case basis. To discuss the management of issues relating to pain and sleep, book an appointment to speak to your GP.

We spoke to Dr James Stewart, one of Australia’s leading minds in cannabis medicine who provided a medical view about insomnia and traditional treatments.

Dr Stewart is a true believer in focusing on overall health and always promotes a healthy lifestyle as the key. Click below to learn more about insomnia, traditional and alternative treatments you may wish to discuss with a doctor.

Nathan Jones
ex AFL Player

After 16 years of AFL footy I suffer from sore knees, ankles and lower back, as well as varying levels of tendonitis in my Achilles and elbows. The pain makes it difficult to get a good night’s sleep.

David McAuliffe

The pain in my shoulders wakes me up every time I roll over in bed. A good night’s sleep is a thing of the past.

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