Some patients find that smoking provides a brief respite from chronic back pain. But the truth is that smoking causes long-term problems for back pain. A Johns Hopkins University study reported in The New York Times supports this finding.
Study Finds Connection Between Smoking and Back Pain
The study’s lead author Dr. Nicholas U. Ahn of Johns Hopkins University says the study followed 1,337 doctors who graduated from medical school. The participants provided their medical records and answered questionnaires every year since their medical school graduation.
In some cases, the study tracked medical history for more than 50 years. It gave researchers enough data to make some determinations. And one of those shows a clear link between a history of smoking and hypertension and low back pain. The study reveals that smoking, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure are significantly associated with spondylosis. This is another name for slipped disc.
How Smoking Affects Back Pain
In the long-term, smoking affects blood flow. It’s known that nicotine can change the size of the blood vessels. Nicotine in the bloodstream reduces the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from the oxygen-rich blood.
The spine already has less blood flow than other areas. With even less blood making its way to the spine, it lowers the body’s healing process and causes degeneration of cells in the spine’s discs. It also interferes with the body’s ability to adapt to changes. These can increase damage to the muscles and ligaments in the spine. This, in turn, causes back pain.
Many people deal with temporary back pain when they first wake up. That’s because lying down decreases blood flow. But once they walk around, the pain goes away after increasing blood flow. The same thing applies to smoking in reverse. It slows blood flow to the areas surrounding the spine, thereby increasing pain and discomfort.
On top of all this, smokers aren’t good candidates for some devices that can help ease pain like neurostimulators. It puts them at risk for an infection after a surgery. While smoking may offer a little relief from pain, it does more harm than good. Aside from ease back pain, quitting smoking delivers many more health benefits.
Have a question? Please contact us or call 214-823-2052. We have two conveniently located offices in Addison and Dallas serving patients in Dallas, Addison, Plano, Frisco, Garland, and other cities in the DFW metroplex.