Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

Smokers Twice As Likely To Experience Pain Than Non Smokers

October 5, 2020


With all credit due to exercise, It is hard to think of a more effective modifiable risk factor on an individual’s health than smoking. The CDC reports smoking harms all of the body’s organ systems and is a known cause of chronic diseases including lung disease (COPD), heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. Researchers report over 16 million Americans are currently living with a chronic disease caused by smoking. The harmful health consequences of this habit are also found in the nervous system where smokers report higher levels of pain and longer pain durations than their non smoking peers. A recent review of the literature reports on the impact of smoking on musculoskeletal pain.

Authors in the journal Pain Medicine reported on the relationship between pain and smoking (Smuck et al. 2020). They analyzed data from over 2,000 participants who submitted demographic, historical, and medical information to a national survey request. Authors reported smokers were twice as likely for spinal pain, headache, trunk and limb pain. Greatest odds ratios were reported for spine pain (2.9) and headache (2.5) when compared to non smokers. Smokers are encouraged to work with their primary care physician on smoking cessation treatments.