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How Smoking Flares Back Pain

Smoking Hurts!

When it comes to low back pain, smoking adds insult to injury. Of all the behaviors we can voluntarily change, smoking remains one of the largest causes of musculoskeletal pain. Aside from the obvious medical conditions associated with the habit – such as lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, and coronary heart disease – smoking is also the root cause of a significant number of musculoskeletal problems. Smoking alters the processing of pain and its perception so that smokers feel increased pain. Nicotine adds an increased risk factor for developing chronic pain. In addition, when a smoker attempts to stop, nicotine increases their pain response and intensifies pain (a situation called hyperalgesia).

A Lifetime of Aches and Pains

Adult smokers and former smokers consistently exhibit a higher lifetime risk for body pain. Damage begins with the impairment in oxygen delivery to the tissues due to levels of what is called carboxyhemoglobin. Also, as we will discuss in the next installment o, smoking may accelerate degenerative processes and make the body more vulnerable to injury. (Smoking and pain, anesthesiology 2010; 113 (4): 977–992)

You may not be a smoker but you probably know someone who is. Especially if they have low back pain, send them a link to this blog. Besides improving their quality of life, you can help clear the air. Blue Heron Chiropractic has lots of information about improving quality of life, and we know you want that. Find out more!

This is part one of a 3 part series back on chronic pain. Check back for the next installment, or get on our mailing list to receive a notification about the next one. Let’s talk about this in the clinic – it might be a big boost for you, a friend, or a relative.

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