To Ease Your Back Pain, Stop Smoking

Stop SmokingSmoking has been associated with a host of negative health consequences. These include everything from degenerative disc disease and low back pain, to a higher risk of complications following surgery.

In a recent study, researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center set out to understand the ways in which smoking (and quitting smoking) affected the amount of pain and disability experienced by people who had painful spinal disorders. The study, “Smoking cessation related to improved patient-reported pain scores following spinal care,” appears in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. It was published online ahead of print in October 2012.

How the Study Was Conducted
The researchers examined data on 5333 patients who had pain related to a spinal disorder. They looked at the patients’ smoking history, as well as the patients’ assessment of their pain during the course of their treatment. On average, the researchers followed up with patients after 8 months. Statistical analyses were used to understand the relationship between the participants’ smoking habits and their health outcomes.

What the Researchers Found
Current smokers reported much higher pain than patients who had never smoked. The average improvement in the amount of pain reported by patients during their care differed between people who did not smoke, and people who currently smoked.

Additionally, researchers found evidence that patients who quit smoking during the course of their care showed improvements in their reported levels of pain when compared to patients who did not quit smoking.

What This Smoking Cessation Study Means for You
Smoking impacts your health in many ways. If you are a smoker and you experience back pain related to a spinal disorder, your condition may improve if you stop smoking. Ask your doctor for resources to help you quit smoking and reduce your level of pain and discomfort.

Updated on: 08/24/15
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Exercise. Good nutrition. A balanced diet. Getting enough sleep. All of these "wellness" choices help prevent back pain.
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