People who smoke are several times more likely to develop chronic back pain than non-smokers, according to US research. 1
The small study, which was produced by the Feinburg School of Medicine, assessed a group of 68 people suffering from sub-acute back pain (pain which has lasted for 4-12 weeks, with no pain in the last year) over a period of 12 months.
It used a combination of questionnaires, which assessed both physical and mental conditions such as depression, as well as MRI scans. Smokers were found to be three times more likely to have back pain., and also had more activity in the brain pathways affected by their addiction.
The researchers suggested this increased activity may be responsible for the increase in back pain, although it could not prove this was definitely the case. More research on a wider group of people would be required, although it would certainly suggest that smoking does not provide any kind of pain relief, as some may think.
Although this study can't be used to conclusively say smoking causes back pain, it does add to the potential health benefits that can be achieved by stopping smoking, such as a reduced risk of lung cancer, emphysema and cardiovascular disease.
If you suffer from the early stages of back pain, the best way to manage it is often to try and remain as active as possible, and to move onto over-the-counter pain relief if necessary. You should also speak to your doctor if the problem persists or deteriorates.
1 Petre B, Torbey S, Griffith JW, et al. Smoking increases risk of pain chronification through shared corticostriatal circuitry . Human Brain Mapping. Published online October 12 2014
Smokers are three times more likely to suffer from back pain - but quitting can ease symptoms . Mail Online, November 4 2014