You have probably experienced back pain. At one point or another, everyone has. Have you ever asked yourself whether your smoking has something to do with your back pain? You should have.
Smoking Hurts Your Back
It turns out that cigarette smoking has a direct influence on many aspects of your health. Back pain is just one of them.
How does smoking influence your back pain? It does so in the same way that it influences all other aspects of your health. Cigarette smoke contains toxic chemicals that affect your joints in a negative way.
One of my previous summer jobs involved lifting heavy items. Somehow I found lifting with my legs a hard concept to grasp. As a result, I ended up getting the nickname “Grandpa” that summer.
During that period, I experienced normal back pain, which I earned through hard work and stupidity. My pain went away when I finally changed the way I lifted stuff.
Chronic back pain is completely different. It doesn’t go away quickly, and you usually end up taking painkillers to control the pain.
The Search for Relief
Like smoking cigarettes, taking prescription painkillers has many negative side effects. One of the major issues associated with prescription painkillers is the risk of developing a strong addiction. Moreover, even with strong medication, only about 58% of chronic back pain sufferers get the relief they desire.
You may say that your nicotine addiction doesn’t have any influence on your pain. It may actually feel like cigarette smoking decreases the intensity of your pain. In general, though, cigarette smokers are more likely to lead unhealthier lives. Could this just be a coincidence?
You are like a hostage with Stockholm syndrome. You have gotten used to being a hostage, and you like your kidnapper-the cigarette. Smoking doesn’t add anything positive to your life, but you grasp at straws to justify your nicotine addiction. You know that you should quit smoking cigarettes if you really want relief. The relief that you feel when you smoke is just a distraction.
Cigarettes ARE the Problem
Smoking a cigarette allows you to switch focus for a few minutes. Your back pain doesn’t decrease in intensity, and it doesn’t go away. You have tricked your mind. If you don’t think about the pain, you don’t feel it. But it is still there.
Cigarette smoking is a major factor in the development of chronic back pain. More specifically, it is a major cause of hypertension and coronary artery disease, which negatively influence back pain.
Researchers conducted a study during which they monitored over 1,300 people for more than 50 years. The study followed 1,337 physicians, who graduated from Johns Hopkins University. The oldest participant was monitored for 53 years. This long-term study showed that high blood cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and other blood circulation issues played major roles in the development of chronic back pain.
Cigarette smoking has a devastating effect on the whole body. The circulatory system is no exception. The aforementioned study showed that, when all other variables remained the same, cigarette smoking was a major factor in the development of chronic back pain. The implications are very clear-if you want to get rid of your back pain you need to quit smoking cigarettes right now.
Smoking Impairs Your Ability to Heal
Every time you move, you damage your spine a bit. Your body constantly repairs this damage. When you smoke, your body makes available fewer, lower quality materials for these repairs. That is how smoking causes your back pain.
The study described above proved the existence of a connection between chronic joint pain and smoking. Another study determined how and why occasional back pain, which we all feel, develops into something that endures for weeks, months and years.
Nicotine addiction influences the development of chronic back pain in another way. Pain is not something physical. You can’t touch, taste or see it. Rather, your brain gets signals and interprets them.
Smoking Alters Your Brain
Smokers are three times more likely than nonsmokers to develop chronic back pain. How and why does cigarette smoking have such a strong, negative effect on your back? Smoking affects your brain’s addictive behavior and motivated learning connections. By strengthening these connections, smoking plays a major role in the development of chronic back pain and chronic pain in other parts of your body.
A strong connection between the two brain regions called the nucleus accumbens and the medial prefrontal cortex influences your resilience to chronic pain. Smoking makes the connection between these two parts of the brain stronger, thus impacting your susceptibility to developing chronic pain.
You Can Fix It
This damage is not permanent even if you have smoked for decades.
Researchers saw a dramatic drop in this brain connection among smokers who quit smoking cigarettes. Their vulnerability to chronic pain decreased. This means that that the damage was not permanent. Similarly, if you quit smoking, you can reduce the intensity of your chronic back pain.
You must first quit smoking if you want to eliminate your chronic back pain.
Nicotine Is Poison
This is one reason why quitting with the assistance of nicotine replacement therapy (nicotine gum, patches or other nicotine-containing products) is not as great as ads would have you believe. In order to reduce the pain in your joints, you need to eliminate all nicotine consumption. Nicotine promotes unhealthy brain connections, damages nerves and reduces your body’s ability to mend itself.
Smoking cigarettes damages your back because it damages your body and alters your brain. Decreasing the amounts of toxic chemicals you consume while continuing to consume nicotine might lead to some improvements in how you feel. However, you will still be addicted to nicotine and continue to strengthen those brain connections.