The 25% of adults in the U.S. who smoke cigarettes will live
an average of five to 10 years less than those who have never
smoked. While smokers are still living, their habit can lead
ongoing problems as well; studies have shown associations
between smoking and low back pain and depression.
To determine the link between smoking and the health, duration
of pain, and severity of pain in spinal patients, the authors
of a recent study appearing in the journal Spine examined
the initial visits of about 25,000 patients at 23 health care
locations. Patients answered questions on work status, symptoms,
medical history, mental health, and personal statistics. Practitioners
provided clinical information and smoking status of their
Smokers were at least 50% more likely to report severe back
pain symptoms and symptoms of depression than nonsmokers.
Smokers scored significantly lower than nonsmokers on all
diagnostic health categories on a health questionnaire. Also,
although smokers suffered spinal symptoms for a similar duration
to that of nonsmokers, the smokers' symptoms were more severe
and occurred more often each day.
Smoking cigarettes, pipes, or cigars can cause many health
problems besides well-known, life-threatening illnesses like
lung cancer. For example, smokers deal with congestion, coughing,
sleeplessness, and weakened immune systems. If you smoke,
try to see these more minor symptoms for what they really
are: signals of more severe problems down the road.
Vogt MT, Hanscom B, Lauerman WC, et al. Influence of smoking
on the health status of spinal patients: The National Spine
Network Database. Spine 2002:27(3), pp. 313-319.
To find out other causes of back pain, go to http://www.chiroweb.com/tyh/backpain.html.