Smoking can literally be a pain in the back. Over the years, research into the association between smoking and low back pain has indicated that smoking worsens back pain, spine degeneration, and long term back health. A study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery in December 2012, found that smokers were far more likely to suffer from spinal disorders and low back pain than those who quit smoking or have never smoked.
“At the time of entry into care, patients who had never smoked and prior smokers reported significantly less back pain than current smokers and those who quit smoking during the study. Current smokers reported significantly greater pain in all visual analog scale pain ratings – worst, current, and average weekly pain – when compared with patients who had never smoked.”
Quit Smoking to Improve Back Pain
Interestingly, patients who had quit smoking during their course of care for low back pain reported greater improvement in back pain than those who continued to smoke. Also, patients who had never smoked, had much greater improvement with treatment (both non-surgical and surgical) than those current smokers.
This study and others like it highlight the importance of smoking cessation programs. There appears to be an added benefit of improving one’s back pain when they stop smoking.