Current Sleep Medicine Reports

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 95–103 | Cite as

Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Pain

  • Konstantina Nikolaou
  • Athanasios Voulgaris
  • Paschalis SteiropoulosEmail author
Sleep and Pain (L Ferini-Strambi, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Sleep and Pain


Purpose of Review

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and pain are bi-directionally related. Sleep fragmentation and nocturnal hypoxia can worsen pain symptoms, whereas individuals suffering from chronic pain often have sleep deprivation and suffer from sleep-disordered breathing. The purpose of this review is to present recent data on the interactions between OSA and pain.

Recent Findings

OSA is highly prevalent among patients with chronic pain disorders especially in those who receive opioid-analgesics. Conversely, sleep fragmentation and untreated OSA could lead to worse pain outcomes. Treatment with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) may decrease pain intensity, increase pain thresholds, and result in less opioid use.


Clinicians should be aware of the mutual association between pain and OSA, when assessing chronic pain patients in order to identify early and manage OSA leading ultimately to better pain outcomes.


Continuous positive airway pressure Obstructive sleep apnea Opioids Pain Sleep 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Konstantina Nikolaou, Athanasios Voulgaris, and Paschalis Steiropoulos each declare no potential conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Konstantina Nikolaou
    • 1
  • Athanasios Voulgaris
    • 1
  • Paschalis Steiropoulos
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Pneumonology, Medical SchoolDemocritus University of ThraceAlexandroupolisGreece

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