Smoking Increases Back Pain!

smoking increases back painIf you’re a smoker and you have chronic back pain, it may not have occurred to you that one might be related to the other. In fact, smokers are three times more likely than non-smokers to develop chronic back pain, in part because of the way it impacts your brain.

New research from Northwestern Medicine revealed that smoking affects the way your brain responds to pain, essentially making smokers “less resilient” to pain episodes.[i] [ii]

The study looked at MRI activity between the nucleus accumbens and medial prefrontal cortex, which are two brain regions involved in addictive behavior. These two regions communicate with one another, and the strength of their connection plays a role in the development of chronic pain. According to the study’s lead author:[iii]

“That circuit was very strong and active in the brain’s of smokers … But we saw a dramatic drop in this circuit’s activity in smokers who — of their own will — quit smoking during the study, so when they stopped smoking, their vulnerably to chronic pain also decreased.”

Those who quit smoking lowered their risk of developing chronic pain, such that the researchers believe smoking-cessation programs could be useful for preventing and relieving chronic pain. Past studies have similarly revealed that quitting smoking reduces pain, including:

  • Ex-smokers with spinal disorders and related back pain experienced greater improvements than those who continued smoking[iv]
  • Smokers with back pain who quit smoking during the course of care reported greater pain improvement than those who continued smoking[v]

So if you suffer from back pain and you smoke, here’s another reason to quit. If you’re trying to quit, herbal infusions can be a quite helpful natural aid, as can eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, which can help to replace cravings and give your body the nutrients it needs.

If you’re seeking the most powerful form of immediate relief from back pain in the meantime (while also healing underlying causes), far-infrared heating pads harness the power of the sun to help soothe and heal your pain from the inside out. Most sources of heat are ambient. This means they warm the air around you with heat that barely penetrates your skin. Far-infrared rays, which are a form of solar energy on the opposite side of the visible spectrum of sunlight, pass right through your skin – as much as three inches deep – and gently warm you from the inside out.

smoking increases back pain

smoking increases back painThis heat has therapeutic effects, helping to boost your circulation, break down and flush out toxins from your tissues, relax muscle cramps and more.

For instance, in a study by Nishi Kyusyu University in Japan, which tested participants in pain severe enough that they couldn’t work, they discovered that by adding far-infrared heat therapy to their treatment (including cognitive behavioral therapy, rehabilitation, and exercise therapy) 77% of the participants in the study were able to return back to work![vi]

Only far-infrared heat can do this, so to experience soothing heating relief from pain now, try the far-infrared heating pad … it works so well, we like to call it the far-infrared ‘healing’ pad instead.


[i] Science Daily November 3, 2014

[ii] Human Brain Mapping October 12, 2014

[iii] Science Daily November 3, 2014

[iv] J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2012 Dec 05;94(23):2161-2166.

[v] Science Daily March 19, 2013

[vi] International Congress Series Volume 1287, April 2006, Pages 298-303

Filed Under: Smoking
Written By:  Updated:
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Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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