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Arthritis and Sleep Apnea

Posted Jul 09 2012 6:52am

Jane Brody from the New York Times just published an article on osteoarthritis and the high rate of knee replacement procedures. There are many effective ways of treating arthritis, but one thing that most doctors never consider when treating this condition is obstructive sleep apnea. A study in 2009 from the Mayo Clinic showed that people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) had significantly higher risk of having obstructive sleep apnea (50%) compared with those that did not (31%). We know that RA is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and so is obstructive sleep apnea. The rate of OSA in the elderly is well over 50%. It’s also known that people with arthritis have more sleep problems in general.

Granted this study talks about RA, and not osteoarthritis, but obstructive sleep apnea causes general inflammation throughout the body, and can also involve the body’s joints. Angiogenesis and inflammation are closely associated processes in osteoarthritis. Here’s a review article on osteoarthritis and inflammation.

I’ve had patients that reported significant improvement in arthritis symptoms after treating sleep apnea with CPAP. Even if one does not cause the other, improving sleep in general can help with pain and nighttime arousals.

If you have arthritis and obstructive sleep apnea, did treating obstructive sleep apnea help improve your arthritis symptoms?

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