A bidirectional study of the association between insomnia, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, and comorbid low back pain and lower limb pain

Scand J Pain. 2022 Apr 14. doi: 10.1515/sjpain-2021-0197. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Objectives: To examine the possible bidirectional association between insomnia and comorbid chronic low back pain (LBP) and lower limb pain and to explore whether high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) amplifies these associations.

Methods: We calculated adjusted risk ratios (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) for the development of insomnia and mild-to-severe chronic LBP and lower limb pain at 11 years follow-up in participants aged ≥32 years and with hsCRP ≤10 mg/L at baseline in 2007-2008: 3,714 without chronic LBP or lower limb pain (sample 1) and 7,892 without insomnia (sample 2).

Results: Compared to participants without chronic pain, participants with comorbid chronic LBP and lower limb pain had a RR of insomnia of 1.37 (95% CI 1.12-1.66). Compared with participants without insomnia, participants with insomnia did not have an increased risk of comorbid chronic LBP and lower limb pain (RR: 1.06, 95% CI 0.76-1.46); however, participants with insomnia had a RR of chronic LBP of 1.20 (95% CI 1.02-1.42). There was no strong amplifying effect of elevated hsCRP (3.00-10.0 mg/L) on these associations.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that elevated hsCRP does not amplify the associations between insomnia and mild-to-severe chronic LBP and lower limb pain. Further research using data on the temporal relation between insomnia, chronic pain, and inflammatory responses are required to fully understand the causal pathways.

Keywords: C-reactive protein; inflammation; insomnia; low back pain; lower limb pain; sleep.