Smokers are far more likely to report problems with persistent musculoskeletal pain than non-smokers, according to a new study in the Journal of Pain, published by the American Pain Society, www.ampainsoc.org.
Researchers from the University of Kentucky School of Public Health questioned more than 6000 women. The study was intended to assess the association of smoking with the presence of different types of chronic musculoskeletal pain.
Previous studies have linked smoking and chronic pain, especially low back pain. The prevalent view following previous research was that smokers of both sexes are more likely than nonsmokers to report pain syndromes.
The Kentucky researchers categorised survey respondents according to age and smoking status, with smokers further classified according to their daily cigarette intake. Respondents also were asked about pain symptoms and if they had been diagnosed with musculoskeletal pain disorders, such as fibromyalgia and low-back pain. Pain variables selected for analysis were the presence / absence of low-back pain, neck pain, sciatica, nerve pain, fibromyalgia, joint pain and pain all over the body.
The study revealed that smokers are significantly more likely to report chronic pain than nonsmokers. Daily smokers were more than twice as likely to report pain than non smokers. Those who smoke over a pack a day were also most likely to report a high burden of chronic pain.
The authors noted that smoking-induced coughing increases abdominal pressure and back pain and nicotine may decrease pain thresholds by sensitising pain receptors. The study also showed a dose-dependent relationship between smoking frequency and having chronic pain syndrome. This may indicate that treatments for giving up smoking could be helpful for chronic pain management therapy.