smoking and back pain

The Rocky Relationship Between Smoking and Back Pain

It’s not new news necessarily, but even more research has come out to back it up. Smoking is directly linked to your back pain. Scientists from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois released information through a study that suggested that smoking directly interferes with a circuit in two different regions of your brain that is associated with pain.

By measuring missed workdays and reasons for doctor’s visits, it can definitely be classified as one of the most common medical issues affecting people today. Around 8 out of 10 Americans experience back pain at least once in their lifetime, so it’s important for medical specialists to educate patients on everything they can do for prevention and relief.

Back Pain and Smoking Study

In the Northwestern study, there were three groups of participants. Group 1 contained 160 volunteers with recent experiences of back pain, group two had 32 participants experiencing chronic back pain, and group 3 had volunteers who claimed they had never had issues with back pain.

The study contained MRI scans and questionnaires for all participants over the course of a year. The two brain regions that received the most focus were the medial prefrontal cortex and the nucleus accumbens which control addictive behavior and learning cognition. The study found that smoking created a stronger connection between the two regions in the brain which in turn created greater risk of chronic back pain. The conclusion states that smokers became three times more likely to experience back pain than those who do not smoke.

Because there are so many reasons a person can experience back pain – injury, bad posture, poor sleeping habits, inflammation, etc. – adding the painful effects of smoking to the list is unnecessary. Contact your local cessation help line to quit the habit today.

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