Posts Tagged ‘low back pain’

Smoking Is An Influence on Pain and Back Pain

Smoking Is An Influence on Pain and Back Pain Specifically

About 1 in 5 Americans smoke (4), so West Palm Beach is likely to have smokers like anywhere else. Smoking is a leading preventable cause of disease and death in the US, resulting in 438,000 deaths annually. (5) Smoking’s influence on low back pain, reported level of pain and recovery from low back is a popular field of study. For the most part, smoking’s influence on back pain is sizeable enough to quit smoking or not start.

In a large scale review of 81 studies and 40 studies analyzed on the topic of smoking and back pain, the association between smoking and back pain prevalence is reported as modest. However, it was found that both current and former smokers have a higher prevalence and incidence of low back pain than non-smokers. This association is even stronger in adolescent smokers than adult smokers. (6)

Since chronic low back pain is one of the main causes of disability in the community, likely even low back pain in West Palm Beach, researchers studied 73,507 Canadians (aged 20 to 59 years) to report on their chronic low back pain status as well as other factors like smoking. Daily smokers have a prevalence of 23.3% for chronic low back pain versus only 15.37% in non-smokers. Occasional smokers were found to have only a slightly increased change of having chronic low back pain. Daily smoking increases the risk of low back pain in young adults. (7)

Another Canadian study reports that persons with chronic low back pain were more likely to smoke than those without chronic low back pain or arthritis. (8)

A significant association between tobacco smoke and pain is reported in smokers and non-smokers exposed to environmental smoke. This study done in Denmark compared active and passive smoking and the frequency of pain due to the exposure. Daily smokers reported significantly more frequent pain than never smokers. The younger the smoker started smoking increases the probability of frequent pain in daily smokers. (9)

Does Stress and Smoking Influence on Back Pain?

Certainly. A study of 571 individuals who experienced onset of low back pain at 32 and 33 years of age and 5210 individuals who were pain free at that age were compared for risk facts (smoking, psychological distress at 23 years of age, social class, childhood emotional status, body mass index, job satisfaction). Psychological stress more than doubles later risk of low back pain, and smoking modestly influences it. The other factors did not significantly influence low back pain onset.  (10) Smoking influences back pain in West Palm Beach.

Smoking and Exercise in Low Back Pain Patients

The smoking habits and exercise habits of 50 low back pain or leg pain sufferers were compared to 50 asymptomatic persons.

  • 33% of low back or leg pain sufferers smoked.
  • 14% of those without pain smoked.
  • 47% of low back or leg pain sufferers exercised
  • 86% of those without pain exercised.

It is suggested, therefore, that the level of physical activity and general exercise improves strength, mobility and endurance, possibly enough to prevent future back injury. (11)

Research reports the negative health effects of smoking like poor physical fitness and reduced muscle strength. Smokers are found to have reduced muscle strength and fatigability of the lumbar spine extensor muscles, making them possibly more vulnerable to back injuries. This study does report that weakness is reversible with rigorous exercise. (12)


In closing, not smoking is a healthier lifestyle choice than smoking. The evidence that smoking may well negatively impact the incidence of back pain and recovery from low back pain makes not smoking or stopping smoking a worthy goal. Smoker or not, your back pain can be controlled, and we at Moses Chiropractic appreciate the opportunity to help you.


Dr. Gregg F. Moses

Chiropractic Physician

1800 Forest Hill Blvd. Ste. A8-10

West Palm Beach, FL 33406