Smoking and Pain

Smoking and pain

In America, our Orthopaedic colleagues will not perform back surgery even if there is evidence of bulging discs if you are a smoker. It’s that serious. Smoking increased pain.
Nicotine greatly reduces the efficiency with which your heart and lungs work to deliver oxygen to your body. It also slows healing, reduces your skin’s elasticity, and increases heart rate and blood pressure. It affects scar tissue development. All of this contributes to chronic pain presentations.
To work effectively, your muscles and joints need a steady supply of oxygen-rich blood. Smoking not only tightens arteries, but it decreases the rate at which oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged in the blood. In other words, when you smoke your muscles not only get less blood, but lower quality blood.
Other side effects of smoking include fatigue, chronic lung disorders and a slowed ability for the body to heal itself, which indirectly affect chronic pain. Fatigue and lung disorders lead to inactivity, which causes deconditioning. Slowed healing means that injuries affect you for longer than usual, and healing from surgeries or infections can be problematic.
It is definitely worth giving up smoking if you have a persistent pain. You can try physiotherapy but if you are a smoker your chances of success for whatever injury you have is much less.

Get help from the NHS and choose a quit day!

The Pain Clinic. “Stop Smoking.” Accessed January 22, 2009.
Jamison et al. “The Relationship Between Cigarette Smoking and Chronic Low Back Pain.” Addictive Behaviors. 1991;16(3-4):103-10.