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Restless sleep may cause widespread pain in people over 50, study shows

A poor night’s sleep is not only exhausting, but may also be a cause of widespread pain among people over 50, Medical Xpress reported.

In a study published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology, researchers collected data from 4,326 people over age 50 in order to analyze their psychological and physical health, lifestyle and levels of pain. Though all patients were free of widespread pain at the start of the study, 2,764 reported some pain and 1,562 reported no pain.

Three years later, the researchers followed up and discovered that 19 percent of participants had developed new widespread pain. Widespread pain is defined as pain affecting multiple areas of the body. Overall, 25 percent of the group that originally reported some pain and 8 percent of the group that initially had no pain went on to develop widespread pain. The condition was also more common among older participants, compared to younger subjects.

After adjusting for osteoarthritis, researchers found that people who experienced non-restorative sleep, anxiety, poor physical health or cognitive complaints were more likely to have developed widespread pain.

"Combined interventions that treat both site-specific and widespread pain are needed for older adults,” study author Dr. John McBeth from the Arthritis Research UK Primary Care Centre at Keele University in Staffordshire, England said.

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