Is Chronic Pain Linked to Cigarettes?

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

The best health advice is to stop smoking if you smoke. Easier said than done, of course. But resilience, commitment and motivation can help anyone get over the hump. This story is about new findings that smoking cigarettes can really have a negative effect on your pain levels. Just another reason to quit.

Researchers found that women who smoke heavily may experience more chronic musculoskeletal pain. This comes from a survey of over 6,000 Kentucky women over 18 asked about smoking habits and symptoms of chronic pain. This included cases of fibromyalgia, sciatica, chronic neck pain, chronic back pain, joint pain, chronic head pain, nerve problems, and pain all over the body.

Results showed that women who smoke, or who were former smokers, had a greater chance of reporting at least one chronic pain syndrome in comparison to nonsmokers. Former smokers showed a 20% higher risk, occasional smokers a 68% higher risk, and for regular smokers — a 104% higher risk.

Daily smoking was also more strongly linked with chronic pain than other issues such as older age and obesity.

While the link here is definite, the “direction” is less clear. For instance: does smoking cause more chronic pain, or do more women take up smoking as a coping mechanism for experiencing chronic pain?

One theory is that women smokers experience acute pain that then develops into chronic pain because their normal protection and mechanisms are damaged by exposure to smoke.

It’s possible that patients experiencing chronic pain could benefit from smoking cessation treatment in addition to pain relief. As well, treating chronic pain could increase a smoker’s chances of successfully quitting.