“Sleep apnea is quite often undiagnosed. People with back pain or other major injuries are not going to get better if they’re not sleeping well. People come to me all the time saying, ‘My shoulder really hurts me and it’s waking me up every night.’ If you are not breathing while you sleep, of course your back or shoulder pain is going to get worse. We need to treat both your sleep apnea and your back or shoulder in order for you to completely heal.” – Dr. Romano
Sleep Apnea (SA) occurs when a person frequently stops breathing for short periods (10-30 seconds) during sleep. This can occur up to 400 times per night. It’s said that about twenty-five percent of the population has sleep apnea, with 80-90 percent of them going undiagnosed. This is particularly important when we perform any surgery such as hip replacements or knee replacements – studies show that undiagnosed / untreated sleep apnea can create more post-surgical complications and longer hospital stays, simply because the patient is not breathing well.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common form of SA and occurs when the soft tissue in your throat narrows and repeatedly closes during sleep, preventing air from getting into the lungs. People with SA can suffer from fatigue and sleepiness, chronic headaches, depression, heart issues, high blood pressure, and more.
The causes of sleep apnea include obesity, drinking alcohol, smoking, sedative medication, a nasal obstruction (deviated septum), being over 40, high blood pressure, and many others. Chronic respiratory tract conditions, such as asthma, allergies, chronic bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can be risk factors as well. You also have an increased risk of developing sleep apnea if you breathe through your mouth while sleeping or if you snore.
The use of a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device, a very common form of therapy, keeps the upper airway open by providing a steady stream of air through a mask so you won’t stop breathing during the night. A specially fitted mouthguard is another form of treatment as it also keeps your upper airway open during sleep.
A lot of times people with sleep apnea or breathing problems also have balance problems and a host of other related complicating issues as well. That’s why we regularly screen for sleep apnea and, if diagnosed, recommend treatment.