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What to do for back pain

It is no secret that regular tobacco use can have a number of negative health consequences. In addition to increasing individuals' risk of heart disease, lung disease, cancer and asthma, researchers have noted that smoking can lead to back pain. Continued use of tobacco may also increase the severity and scope of these spinal issues, particularly in the lower back. In an attempt to better understand this link, researchers in 2012 began a study to determine whether quitting cigarettes can reduce back pain.

Can Quitting Cigarettes Reduce Back Pain?

According to a recent study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, there is compelling evidence to suggest that quitting cigarettes can reduce back pain symptoms amongst sufferers. The report was conducted by investigators from the University of Rochester Department of Orthopedics and titled "Smoking Cessation Related to Improved Patient-Reported Pain Scores Following Spinal Care."

The research indicated that during the course of eight-month treatment for a severe spinal disorder, patients who stopped using tobacco products had lower chronic pain levels than those who did not, including former smokers. Subjects who smoked had significantly higher ratings on the visual analog scale (VAS) pain ratings, which features worst, current and average weekly pain.

"We know that nicotine increases pain," said study author Glenn Rechtine. "In this study, if you quit smoking during treatment, you got better. If you continued to smoke, there was statistically no improvement, regardless of the treatment you had. Smoking is bad for you. Basically, the likelihood to improve your care - surgical or non-surgical - was dramatically decreased if you are a smoker."

Pain Specialist, Dr. Michael Ho also supports the study's findings. " In all my years of treating back pain, I have always advised my patients to quit smoking.  I have found that patients that lived a healthier lifestyle and did not smoke, found recovery times and treatment effectiveness vastly improved.

To learn more about this study, click this link:

Patients With Severe Back Pain Who Quit Smoking Report Less Pain Than Patients Who Continue to Smoke

Why Am I Having Back Spasms?

Cigarettes and Tobacco Are a Public Health Issue

While tobacco use has been decreasing throughout the general population in the U.S., it remains a serious public health issue. The National Cancer Institute estimates that approximately 19 percent of adults ages 18 and older regularly smoked cigarettes in 2011. Additionally, about 16 percent of high school students use cigarettes, while another 7.3 percent used smokeless tobacco products.

Based on the study, individuals who smoke and have serious back pain should consider quitting cigarettes to alleviate their symptoms. Along with the use of therapies that reduce muscle tension such as spinal traction or T.E.N.S therapy, quitting smoking can have a drastic improvement on overall pain and the success of surgical recovery. That's not to mention the general health benefits of reducing the risk for cancer, lung disease and other potentially-fatal health conditions.

Learn More About Back Pain on the DR-HO'S Blog

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