While previous studies have established the link between smoking and increased pain in general, the findings of the new study found that smokers who suffer from chronic back pain or spinal disorders experience greater intensity of pain than the patients who abstain from it.
For the purpose of the study, researchers from the University of Rochester looked at 5,333 patients with spinal disorders. All of them were suffering from chronic back pain.
Researchers collected details of their smoking history, if any and asked them to fill in pain questionnaires both at the start and end of the study.
For eight months, the patients were assigned to various treatment options including injections, over-the-counter pain medicine, physical therapy, surgery, and at-home exercises. Meanwhile, all smokers were urged to quit smoking.
Findings of the study
Researchers found that those who never smoked and those who quit smoking before the start of treatment experienced lesser back pain than smokers and those who quit recently.
By the end of the study, patients who gave up smoking either before the start of the treatment or during the treatment reported significantly less pain as compared to people who failed to give up smoking.
“We know that nicotine increases pain,” study’s lead author Dr. Glenn R. Rechtine, from the University of Rochester’s Department of Orthopedics in the U.S. said. “In this study, if you quit smoking during treatment, you got better. If you continued to smoke, there was statistically no improvement, regardless of the treatment you had.”
The findings of the study are reported in the Wednesday issue of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.