Millions of Americans complain about chronic pain, but researchers have found that a lot of the hardship could be linked to bad lifestyle habits, like smoking tobacco. A published study in JAMA Internal Medicine concludes that some 14 million important medical conditions in the United States are attributable to smoking. This is not the first study to link smoking to chronic pain, and when it comes to pain management shawnee ks health professionals say in many cases, patients are able to diminish the pain with a few changes.
Managing the Aches and Pains
Back pain, Osteoarthritis, and Arthrosis are all common health problems in the United States, affecting millions of people, and the pain is the main reason for the days of absence at work and the second most common reason for doctor visits. Experts say patients that smoke are more likely to feel more pain, than those who do not smoke. Over a decade ago, clinical studies were held, testing more than 150 participants with degenerative disease – Arthrosis. The study showed that smokers were more likely to suffer loss of joint cartilage, compared with those who did not smoke tobacco.
Arthrosis, or degenerative disease of the joints like Osteoarthritis, is characterized by wear of the cartilage and affects, mainly, the spine, hands, knees, hips and feet. It is a chronic disorder that can cause joint pain and stiffness and that usually affects a large part of the elderly. Experts say they do not know the exact reason that links smoking with the progression of osteoarthritis. And notes that the pain that smokers feel may not be related to the loss of cartilage, because it does not have nerve fibers that capture pain. Although the research has some limitations, like the number of the participants, health professionals emphasize its value, saying the results are provocative.
Other studies say smoking increases brain activity, slows blood circulation, and speeds up the blood pressure, and overall impairs the immune system, which reduces resistance to chronic back pain. Experts point out that a connection between two important brain regions plays a crucial role in the development of chronic pain. The stronger the connection between them, the less resistant an individual is to chronic pain, and smoking seems to affect this connection.
Experts also point out other ways smoking influences pain, like inflammation and poor blood flow. Smoking thickens the blood therefore it does not flow so easily through the narrowed blood vessels. This also affects how the body handles oxygen. With less oxygen, the body has more difficulty in self-healing. Inflammation is increased by the chemicals typically found in cigarettes, thus toxins can increase the amount of pain experienced.
Can These Effects Be Reversed?
While the by-products of these disease, like Arthrosis and the loss of cartilage cannot be reversed simply by the cessation of cigarettes, experts say chronic pain can be diminished if you stop smoking. Experts remind us, smoking doesn’t just influence the amount of pain we feel, but it increases the incidence of diseases such as arteriosclerosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and different respiratory infections. Nowadays, the negative effects of cigarette smoke on the immune system are widely documented and tested, and all these studies show why stopping smoking contributes to better health.