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Is Your Smoking Linked to Back Pain?

Smoking Linked To Back Pain
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Added on July 21, 2014

In the United States, it's estimated that 8 million Americans suffer from chronic low back pain. Healthcare costs, disability payments, and lost productivity related to low back pain are estimated to total $20 billion each year. In fact, back pain ranks second only to the common cold as a reason for outpatient visits, making it both the most common and most expensive industrial and occupational health problem.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 42.1 million adults in the United States smoke cigarettes.There are a variety of physiological effects and adverse reactions to tobacco (i.e. cigarettes, cigars, pipe smoking, and smokeless tobacco products). These effects include but are not limited to the following: increased heart rate, vasoconstriction, decreased oxygen to the heart, increased risk of thrombosis (blood clot), poor wound healing, increased risk of pneumonia, disc degeneration, and poor bone grafting.

How is Smoking linked to Back Pain?

Smoking is associated with back pain and intervertebral disc disease. Smoking is known to cause atherosclerosis, which diminishes blood supply and leads to improper healing and further injury resulting in pain. Atherosclerosis usually occurs with aging and is often associated with tobacco use, obesity, hypertension, elevated LDL levels, depressed HDL levels, and diabetes mellitus. A diet low in cholesterol, calories, and saturated fats, along with avoidance of smoking, stress, and a sedentary lifestyle, may help prevent atherosclerosis, and in turn prevent low back pain.

Nicotine promotes vasoconstriction, which can lead to reduced perfusion and malnutrition to the intervertebral discs. As stated previously, smoking may lead to atherosclerosis, causing degenerative lesions in the intervertebral discs further resulting in poor blood supply. It is also a risk factor for osteoporosis, which results in decreased bone mineral density (BMD) and an increased risk of fractures. In addition, smoking increases circulating pro-inflammatory cytokines, which send signals to the central nervous system and amplifies pain.

Benefits of Smoking Cessation

To help improve your health and decrease low back pain, avoid smoking or using tobacco. The benefits to smoking cessation are endless and can begin as soon as twenty minutes after the last cigarette. From two weeks to three months following cessation, improvements are seen in circulation, along with reductions in shortness of breath, and improvements in exercise capacity. One year after the last cigarette, the risk of coronary heart disease is reduced to half that of a smoker. Lastly, fifteen years after the last cigarette, the risk of coronary heart disease equals that of a nonsmoker.

Always remember, it is never too late to stop smoking! Act now!





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