To assess the problem of night pain and the use of hypnotic drugs in patients with rheumatic diseases 165 consecutive patients (mean age 58.5 years) were assessed and questioned about night pain and the use of drugs including night sedation. Most of the patients (106 (64%)) were women. A total of 32 (19%) patients were receiving night sedation for a mean duration of 43.9 months. Fourteen patients (13 women) were using these drugs to treat insomnia related to pain. The mean visual analogue pain score for night pain showed a significant difference between those receiving night sedation (5.2) and those who were not (3.7). Of the 70 patients who answered the Stanford Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ), those receiving night sedation also had a significantly higher mean score (1.91) than those who were not (1.2), suggesting that patients receiving night sedation were more clinically disabled. Codeine was used by more (34%) patients receiving night sedation than those who were not (18%) suggesting that those receiving night sedation had more pain. These results highlight the need for better pain management in patients with rheumatic diseases to minimise the risk of prescribing addictive drugs such as hypnotic drugs and codeine.
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