Can Cigarette Smoking Cause Chronic Back Pain?
Let me tell you a story. You’re a scientist in a white lab coat with a pen in your hand and a cigarette in the other. While scratching your greying goatee, you ask yourself, “Can smoking cigarettes cause chronic back pain?” After some deep research, you discover the shocking truth — chronic back pain is an epidemic, and your visit to orthopaedic surgeon at David Slattery becomes inevitable! In fact, your research shows that there is a strong correlation between smoking and chronic back pain.
A new study from researchers from Vanderbilt University has revealed that cigarette smoking can cause chronic pain. This is a startling revelation that many of us tend to ignore. According to the survey, it was found that people who smoke are one and a half times more likely to have lower back pain. Tobacco users were seen to have a relatively higher incidence of back problems than people who never smoked or used to smoke.
It hurts your back
Cigarette smoke contains toxic chemicals that negatively affect your joints. You might think that you can limit your exposure to these harmful chemicals by only smoking at home. Unfortunately, the toxic chemicals in smoke penetrate the walls of your house and linger within the paint on the walls. These toxic elements can be reactivated by declining levels of humidity in the air during the winter months. The resulting chemical reaction inside your paint allows some of the smoke’s components to be released into your environment for up to six months after you smoke indoors.
Back pain is not only frustrating, but it can be quite uncomfortable. Many back pain sufferers have been prescribed prescription painkillers due to their intensity. However, taking these tablets can come with a wide range of side effects. Prescription painkillers have been linked with serious mental health problems, heart attacks, strokes and many other issues.
In 2005, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists reported that there were roughly 82 million prescriptions for painkillers written nationwide. Of those, 28% were for anti-inflammatory medications – oxycodone being one of the most popular – and another 25% were used to treat moderate to severe pain.
Coronary artery disease
A staggering 43.6% of adults over the age of 25 in the U.S. smoke cigarettes, and as a whole, Americans spend $133 billion a year on medical costs due to cigarettes (1). On average, smokers die 7 years earlier than those who do not smoke (2). While it may be surprising that cigarette smoking has such dire health effects, it is surprising that cigarette smoking can have such devastating consequences for your back.
Cigarette smoking is a major aggravating factor in the development of chronic back pain. More specifically, it is a major cause of hypertension and coronary artery disease, negatively influencing back pain.
It impairs your ability to heal
When you move, your spine undergoes a constant cycle of breakdown and repair. Every time you move, you damage your spine a bit, and your body constantly repairs this damage. When you smoke, your body makes available fewer, lower-quality materials for these repairs. That is how smoking causes your back pain.
Think about how much you move in a day. Just sitting in your chair, you’ve changed position (and therefore triggered different muscles) every few minutes. Imagine how much more movement you get when you factor in standing, walking around, or getting up to get something from another room. Add in chores like folding laundry, vacuuming, cleaning your kitchen, taking out the trash…and it’s easy to understand how your back can get worn down.
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