European Spine Journal

, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 737–743 | Cite as

Prevalence of sleep disturbance in patients with low back pain

  • Saad M. AlsaadiEmail author
  • James H. McAuley
  • Julia M. Hush
  • Chris G. Maher
Original Article


Low back pain (LBP) is a common health condition that is often associated with disability, psychological distress and work loss. Worldwide, billions of dollars are expended each year trying to manage LBP, often with limited success. Recently, some researchers have reported that LBP patients also report sleep disturbance as a result of their LBP. However, as most of this evidence was obtained from highly selected groups of patients or from studies with small samples, high quality data on prevalence of sleep disturbance for patients with LBP are lacking. It is also unclear whether sleep disturbance is more likely to be reported by patients with recent-onset LBP than by patients with persistent LBP. Finally, it is not known whether high pain intensity, the most relevant condition-specific variable, is associated with higher rates of reported sleep disturbance. The present study aimed to determine the prevalence of reported sleep disturbance in patients with LBP. In addition, we aimed to determine whether sleep disturbance was associated with the duration of back pain symptoms and whether pain intensity was associated with reported sleep disturbance. Data from 1,941 patients obtained from 13 studies conducted by the authors or their colleagues between 2001 and 2009 were used to determine the prevalence of sleep disturbance. Logistic regression analyses explored associations between sleep disturbance, the duration of low back symptoms and pain intensity. The estimated prevalence of sleep disturbance was 58.7% (95% CI 56.4–60.7%). Sleep disturbance was found to be dependent on pain intensity, where each increase by one point on a ten-point visual analogue scale (VAS) was associated with a 10% increase in the likelihood of reporting sleep disturbance. Our findings indicate that sleep disturbance is common in patients with LBP. In addition, we found that the intensity of back pain was only weakly associated with sleep disturbance, suggesting that other factors contribute to sleep problems for LBP patients.


LBP Sleep Disturbance Pain Prevalence Chronic pain 



Mr. Alsaadi is a PhD student who has supported by the University of Dammam, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Conflicts of interest

The authors of this study certify that no actual or potential conflicts of interest in relation to this study exist.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Saad M. Alsaadi
    • 1
    Email author
  • James H. McAuley
    • 2
  • Julia M. Hush
    • 3
  • Chris G. Maher
    • 1
  1. 1.Musculoskeletal DivisionThe George Institute for International Health, The University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Prince of Wales Medical Research InstituteSydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Faculty of Health SciencesThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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