How Smoking Leads to Back Pain

There is no question about it; smoking will shorten your life. But did you know that it can also cause back pain?

Smoking cigarettes is widely known to negatively affect nearly every organ in the body and cause various diseases. In the United States, around half a million people die each year from conditions related to cigarette smoking. Cigarette smoking takes more American lives each year than HIV, alcohol use, and car accidents. 

The negative effects of cigarette smoking don’t stop at the lungs, and they can reach as far as the muscles in your back.

Back pain is one of the most pervasive health problems in the US. It’s estimated that about four out of every 5 people experience it at some point in their lives. Back pain is the most common reason that Americans miss work and the second most common reason they go to the doctor. 

back pain

Smoking and Back Pain

Researchers note the relationship between cigarette smoking and chronic back pain. 

For one, nicotine, the ingredient that gives cigarettes their addictive property, is shown to limit blood flow to the spine. This, in turn, can accelerate the deterioration of spinal discs, which function to absorb shock between the 33 bones in your spine. The gradual decay of these shock-absorbing discs can lead to chronic back pain. The jerky movement that comes with a smoker’s cough puts additional stress on discs. 

Nicotine is also shown to slow the body’s ability to absorb calcium, the most important mineral for maintaining strong bones. Restricting bone growth can put smokers at a higher risk of a variety of pain-causing diseases and injuries including osteoporosis and fractures. 

Smoking has even been shown to increase brain activity in the regions that send pain signals to the rest of the body. One study found that participants with chronic back pain, who stopped smoking, saw a dramatic decrease in pain signaling from the brain and experienced far less discomfort in their backs. 

back pain

Massage Therapy and Smoking

For those who smoke to ease their worries, massage therapy can be a valuable tool for quitting. Massage therapy can do wonders to ease stress, anxiety, and chronic pain that comes with them. When a craving kicks in and you want to light up a cigarette, you can turn to an effective massage therapy device to ease your anxiety and fight through the urge. 

To learn more about back pain, its causes, and how to stop it, enjoy this free eBook by Dr. Todd Sinett titled 21 Days to a Better Back! It includes Dr. Sinett’s Better Back Meal Plan, tips on how to deal with stress-induced back pain, and quizzes to determine the cause of your back pain. To download the free ebook, click here.