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Chronic Back Pain Risk Linked to Smoking Tobacco

Posted on February 17, 2016 by Disability Help Group

Researchers at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL have published a study in the Human Brain Mapping medical journal suggesting a link between chronic back pain and smoking. While this is not the first study linking smoking to chronic pain, it is the first one to pinpoint the exact correlation between the lifestyle choice and the disabling condition.

The study reviewed the pain levels and smoking habits of 160 participants with subacute back pain (pain lasting 4-12 weeks) and 32 participants with chronic back pain (pain lasting for five or more years). The participants, including 35 with no back pain, completed five questionnaires about their smoking habits and health conditions over a one-year period. MRI brain scans were used during this assessment to assess the activity between the two brain regions doctors have identified as playing a crucial role in pain development.

The study concluded that smoking caused a stronger connection between these two brain regions, which in turn lead to a higher risk of chronic back pain. Smokers in the study were three times more likely to develop chronic back pain than the nonsmokers in the group. A positive discovery also came from the study – those with back pain who quit smoking saw a significant reduction on the brain region connection and therefore a lower vulnerability to chronic back pain.

There have been numerous studies showing the benefits of smoking cessation on chronic diseases. Chronic back pain is one of the most common disabilities that cause Americans to miss work and eventually become unable to engage in substantial gainful activity. If you have been unable to work for several months due to chronic, severe back pain, Disability Help Group can assess your situation and help you apply for long-term disability benefits. To begin your claim, call today – 1-(800)-800-3332.