Quitting Smoking Can Improve Back Pain

Studies have shown that smoking is a risk factor for back pain and disc disease. But how long-term is the risk? Does giving up smoking improve back pain or it is too late for smokers?

A new study shows that quitting can have big benefits. The research was presented at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, where researchers showed the relationship between smoking, smoking cessation, and spine or leg pain in patients with spinal disorders. Patients' age, gender, weight, smoking history, assessment of pain, treatment type, and depression were also assessed.

The study included 6,779 patients undergoing treatment for spinal disorders with severe spinal or leg pain present. The study authors found that 8.9% of patients over the age of 55 currently smoked, compared with 23.9% of patients 55 and younger. Among both age groups of current smokers, greater pain was reported than in those who had never smoked.

Participants who quit smoking while receiving spinal care reported greater pain improvement than those who still smoked.

Previous research has shown treatment for spinal disorders helped improve pain in the majority of patients, but those who quit smoking experienced far greater pain relief than those who kept smoking.

So, no, it is never too late to quit smoking. Smoking cessation is an important step in treating patients with back pain.


American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Smoking Cessation Improves Pain In Spine Patients. Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 21 Mar. 2013.