Need Another Reason to Quit Smoking? It’s Bad For Your Back Too

When it comes to health problems associated with smoking, you would probably think of issues such as emphysema, COPD and lung cancer. But if recent research on this subject is correct, you might also be able to add back pain to the list.

A Bad Lifestyle Choice

Consider a report published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. Conducted by a team of British researchers, this report surveyed more than 13,000 people, asking them about their lifestyle habits. Specifically, the authors asked the participants about the following:

  • Smoking habits
  • Levels of physical activity
  • Employment 
  • Pain history 

Even when taking these multiple factors into account; the research team still concluded that smokers faced a 30 percent greater risk of significant back pain, due simply due to their consumption of tobacco products. In addition, pain in the neck, shoulders, elbows, hands, hips, and knees was found to be a somewhat greater threat to smokers than non-smokers.

What’s The Link?

So how does smoking make a person more susceptible to back pain? As of now, medical researchers aren’t exactly sure. The authors of the report published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases did offer one possible explanation – they believe that tobacco consumption may alter how the brain disseminates its pain signals. Alternatively, it may be that cigarettes have the effect of depriving back tissues of vital nutrients, making the back’s muscles and joints more likely to experience pain. 

While medical researchers do not completely understand the connection between smoking and back pain woes, one thing is abundantly clear – those who smoke should try to kick their habit as soon as possible. Aside from reducing the risk of numerous cardiovascular problems, giving up on cigarettes just might offer some degree of back pain relief.

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