24 Jul

We all know smoking has a detrimental impact on our health – from being responsible for 70 per cent of lung cancer cases to increasing our chances of developing coronary heart disease. However, few people are aware that having a cigarette habit might also be the root of their back pain.

The Express revealed a number of studies have been conducted linking smoking with chronic pain, including one that implies it interferes with a brain circuit associated with discomfort. Therefore, smokers can be more prone to chronic pain, including aches in their backs.

The research was conducted by Bogdan Petre of the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern, who published the study in the medical journal, Human Brain Mapping.

It found smokers are three times more likely to have chronic back pain, and they could significantly reduce their chances of having this condition by stopping cigarettes altogether. 

The study looked at 68 people who had back pain that lasted for between four and 12 weeks despite having no symptoms during the previous year. They were monitored for 12 months and had to fill out questionnaires regarding their pain levels, while also undergoing four MRI brain scans.

It was discovered the participants had raised activity in the brain pathways between the nucleus accumbens and the medical prefrontal cortex, which could increase the risk of chronic pain. Those who stopped smoking managed to reduce this growth in activity.

The researchers stated: “We conclude that smoking increases risk of transitioning to chronic back pain, an effect mediated by corticostriatal circuitry involved in addictive behaviour and motivated learning.”

Acute back pain can be debilitating, and even those who have quit smoking to reduce their aches might need some extra help alleviating the symptoms. Why not try osteopatherapy in Chelsea as a way to relieve pain and aid recovery?

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