Does Smoking Cause Back Pain?

Many people want to know if smoking causes back pain, among other medical problems. A recent study published in the American Journal of Medicine does in fact indicate that people who smoke over long periods of time will develop chronic back pain. People that do smoke should give it up as soon as possible if they want to experience back pain relief, because even those that have been chronic smokers in the past and quit have a higher rate of back pain than those that have never smoked. The statistics bearing the facts of a strong association between smoking and back pain is probably not a revelation to you. It is common knowledge by this point that smoking is bad for you, and may cause health problems beyond bronchitis and lung disease. The active ingredients in cigarettes damage lung tissue as well as the blood vessels of the body, including the arteries, causing them to harden and age prematurely. The hardening of the arteries, known as atherosclerosis, caused by smoking may cause the body to become unable to repair itself in the event of a back injury, and may disrupt circulation to certain areas of the back of oxygen and other important nutrients. Smoking is bad overall, for the back and many other areas of the body. Smoking is also a major risk factor for breast cancer. Smoking is also most famous for its increasing the likelihood of a person developing heart disease and lung cancer. Smoking is also associated with an increased risk for lung cancer, but nearly all other types of cancers as well. Some studies even indicate that smoking is directly responsible for one third of all cancers.



Though back pain may be considered a relatively benign result of smoking compared to the other medical conditions just mentioned above, it can cause a lot of misery in a person's life and frequent days lost from work. Back pain, while not a life threatening condition, can be bad enough to cause a person to be unable to maintain their personal hygiene, to do their job properly, and to maintain relationships. Though the causes of back pain are often complex and unclear, the available research indicates that smoking may be a contributing factor in a significant percentage of patients. Indeed the causes are complex, considering that people who smoke are also less likely to life a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercises a balanced, healthy diet, and the avoidance of other unhealthy things such as alcohol. Would a person who smokes who has an otherwise healthy lifestyle still be much more likely to have back pain. I haven't read a lot of research to make these things clear.

One type of statistical formula that provides more specific data as to how smoking specifically causes back pain is the "odds ratio" or "OR". The odds ration goes beyond just pointing out associations between groups of data. The odds ratio is a measure of effect size and describes the strength of association between two binary data values. For the purposes of the smoking/back pain groups discussion, "What are the odds of a person being in a smokers group also to be in the back pain group as well?". The OR for chronic back pain was 1.79 for people who were active smokers.