Add an increased risk of low back pain to the many health-related problems attributed to smoking, at least according to recent research. A Northwestern University study found that certain compounds in cigarette smoke make smokers prone to experiencing chronic pain, including LBP.
Smoking and Blood Vessels
Another comprehensive study, this one encompassing more than 50 years of research, found that smokers studied had higher instances of elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Hypertension and high cholesterol are conditions that can affect how nutrients are delivered via blood vessels to the lower back area, possibly accounting for increased instances of LBP among smokers.
Smoking and the Brain
Research suggests smoking impacts how the brain interprets chronic pain, including pain signals sent from the lower back region. Smoking appears to reduce the brain’s resistance to chronic pain. Researchers concluded that smokers are three times more likely to experience chronic pain, defined as pain continuing for six months or more, than their non-smoking counterparts.
Smoking and Atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, makes it more difficult for blood vessels to function properly. This is significant with regards to low back pain because consistent high blood cholesterol levels have been linked to the development of lumbar spondylosis, a natural deterioration of the lower spine due to age and compression. Previous research suggests atherosclerosis may be a contributing factor to LBP and degenerative spine disorders.
Smoking and Inflammation
Cigarette smoking is associated with an increase in inflammation, which can contribute to LBP. Even when patients are taking medication to control their inflammation, smoking may interfere with how some of those drugs work by minimizing the effectiveness of NSAIDs and other commonly prescribed medications for inflammation affecting the lower back.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a sensible diet is one of the most effective ways to minimize low back pain. Researchers suggest that smokers with a history of low back pain combine any treatments they’re receiving for their back pain with participation in smoking cessation programs and similar behavioral interventions to further reduce their discomfort. The benefits of quitting smoking are almost immediate.
If you are a smoker who is experiencing back pain and are considering options that can provide effective relief, reach out to The Spine Institute Center, a leading spine surgery center in Los Angeles. The qualified diagnosticians and surgeons can help you determine viable treatments options and rediscover a pain-free lifestyle. Call (310) 828-7757 today and schedule an in-person consultation.