Circadian Rhythm and Pain: a Review of Current Research and Future Implications

Chung Jung Mun, Helen J. Burgess, Dorothy D. Sears, Sairam Parthasarathy, Dara James, Ulysses Altamirano, Surabhi Sajith, Ananya Lakhotia, Roger B. Fillingim, Shawn D. Youngstedt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Purpose of Review: The goal is to examine the link between circadian rhythms and pain, which may shed further light on improving pain management strategies and preventing the development and/or worsening of chronic pain. Recent Findings: In part I, we provide evidence that the rhythmicity of pain may be regulated by the central circadian clock. We also found that rhythmicity in pain widely differs across pain conditions. In part II, we provide indirect evidence that circadian rhythm disruptions (e.g., night-shift work) and improvement of circadian synchronization (e.g., light therapy) are associated with pain-related experiences. Summary: Investigating the link between circadian rhythms and pain may inform enhancing precision pain medicine and assay sensitivity of clinical trials, as well as development of more effective chronic pain treatment and prevention programs. More rigorous laboratory studies that evaluate endogenous circadian pain rhythmicity and through what mechanisms disrupted circadian rhythms impact pain processing are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114-123
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Sleep Medicine Reports
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Analgesia
  • Assay sensitivity
  • Circadian rhythm
  • Opioid
  • Pain
  • Precision medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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