October 24, 2009 - A Canadian study published in the journal Clinical and Investigative Medicine has identified a higher rate of chronic lower back pain among people who smoke every day, particularly the young.
PAPER: Cigarette smoking and chronic low back pain in the adult population Fahad Alkherayf, Charles Agbi, Clinical & Investigative Medicine, Vol 32, No 5 (2009), ABSTRACT..
Professor and Director Michael Cousins of the Pain Management Research Institute, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia said the research suggested their smoking was interfering with pain transmitters, causing osteoporosis or affecting their spine-related blood circulation. The condition resulted in chronic lower back pain which could also trigger a "downward spiral" in a person's life, he warned.
Cousins: "Chronic pain is now regarded as a disease in its own right. Patients with it rapidly progress into a downward spiral of physical, psychological and environmental changes, resulting in major deterioration of all life activities, in their work, family and community roles."
Researchers used health survey data from more than 73,000 people aged 20-59 to look for any link between smoking and back pain. They found that while 15.7 per cent of non-smokers reported chronic pain, for daily smokers the figure was 23.3 per cent and the association was stronger in younger adults. The study was controlled to ensure weight, fitness, education and other factors which can differ between smokers and non-smokers did not skew the results. "Back pain treatment programs may benefit from integrating smoking habit modification," the researchers said.
Lobby group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Australia said the finding was significant as back pain was experienced by four out of five Australians. It was also a major cause of work absence and productivity loss, with the combined health and workplace cost estimated at more than $9 billion a year. ASH chief executive Anne Jones: "This study further strengthens the case for stepping up the fight against tobacco at all levels," said ASH chief executive Anne Jones.
Jones: "This should include an immediate tax increase and making all workplaces comprehensively smokefree in line with our commitment to the international anti-tobacco treaty."
Reference: Smoking linked to chronic lower back pain by Danny Rose, News.com.au, 10/24/2009.