Beat Back Pain by Quitting Smoking

Smoking cessation eased pain for spinal care patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) There are a lot of obvious reasons to quit smoking. But a lesser known reason to quit may be to help with back pain during treatment for spine issues.

A recent study looked at a group of spinal care patients and their smoking habits.

The results of the study showed that non-smokers had less pain than smokers. And people who quit smoking during treatment had less back pain after quitting.

"Quit smoking to help ease back pain."

Caleb J. Behrend, MD, resident in Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation at the University of Rochester Medical Center in NY, along with a group of fellow health professionals, presented study findings on smoking in patients with back pain.

“Smoking is a risk factor for back pain and disc disease,” said the authors.

For the study, 6,779 patients with back pain or in treatment for spinal disorders were asked about their smoking habits.

The average amount of time each patient spent in treatment for back pain was eight months.

The study results showed that 9 percent of spinal care patients over the age of 55 were smokers, while 24 percent of younger patients smoked.

Age didn’t make much of a difference in quitting smoking, as 25 percent of patients over age 55 and 26 percent of patients aged 55 and younger quit smoking.

The authors said, “Older patients are less likely to smoke and equally likely to quit smoking.”

Based on all of the pain tests, smokers reported higher levels of pain than never smokers, regardless of age.

People who quit smoking during spinal care reported lower “worst” pain scores and lower current levels of pain.

“As a group, those who continued smoking during treatment had no clinically significant improvement in reported pain regardless of age,” the authors said.

The authors recommended smoking cessation programs for spinal care patients. Encouraging smoking cessation may help patients manage back pain.

This study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) in Chicago, IL, March 19-23, 2013. The results of this study have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

No funding information was made available to the public. No conflicts of interest were reported by the authors.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 21, 2013
Last Updated:
March 23, 2013