ToDo: Quitting smoking to get rid of back pain

Smokers, here is another reason to quit smoking! The terrible back pain you are suffering from may actually be one of the many negative aspects of smoking. A recent study* conducted by researchers at the British University of Rochester indicated that quitting smoking can reduce back pain for people who suffer from problems in their spine.

The association of back pain and nicotine

The study emphasized the importance of quitting smoking for patients suffering from spinal disorders, since the existence of a link between improved back pain and smoking cessation was proved. It also revealed that pain rates are significantly higher for smokers compared to non-smokers.

The study which lasted 8 months included 5,300 patients with back pain due to a problem in the spine. The researchers stressed the need to develop programs for those patients to quit smoking in order to get rid of their back pain. They found that among people who began receiving treatment, former smokers and non-smokers, the back pain was definitely better eased compared to current smokers who did not quit smoking during the study.

The researchers said that patients who quit smoking during treatment had the best improvement in pain compared to those who continued smoking as usual. Glenn R. Rechtine, M.D., a nationally recognized spinal surgeon and adjunct faculty at URMC, led the study and stressed that “nicotine increases the pain. The study showed that if he quits smoking during treatment, the patient feels better.”

Rechtine also pointed out that “This study emphasizes the importance of smoking cessation for patients suffering from spinal disorders because of the existence of a link between improved back pain and smoking cessation.” A previous study has been conducted on more than eight thousand people in Germany and showed that smokers were more likely to have chronic back pain than non-smokers.

Many people suffer from spinal disorders such as spine curvature disorders (the most common ones being lordosis, kyphosis and scoliosis). There are numerous reasons for the spread of these problems, mainly bad daily habits that most of us have adopted long time ago.

Spine harmful habits

There are several factors that can damage the spine, most notably:

– Sitting on the ground, which causes curvature of the back if it lasts for a long time.

– Back and neck banging which is a common habit among many people, but that can cause some serious damage of the spinal cord and the vertebrae.

– Charging the spine above what it can bear such as pushing a parked car, causing the back muscles to stretch more than what is allowed and possibly evolving to lead to a discal hernia and thus to sciatica.

– Fatigue at work.

– Lack of exercise and inactivity.

– Intense exercising.

– Sitting for long periods and bending in front of the computer, because it causes blood to flow to the legs and keeps the spine twisted for a long time.

Smoking in the Middle East

Trends have been varying since 1980 by country and gender. Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Yemen, Kuwait are still among the countries where smoking rates remain high.

Both Saudi Arabia and Yemen and Oman are among the ten countries that have a population of over one million and in which the daily consumption of cigarettes rate is the highest in 2012. Kuwait was one of the countries – including China and Russia – which suffered from a high health negative impact of the combined effects of the high prevalence of smoking and the consumption of cigarettes. Lebanon was one of the few countries in the world where smoking rates among women were higher than 20%.

Overall, the prevalence of smoking by age dropped by 42% among women and by 25% among men between 1980 and 2012. Despite the decline in the prevalence of smoking, high population growth contributed between 1980 and 2012 to increase by 41% the number of daily male smokers and a 7% increase of the number of daily female smokers. Lebanon is the only country in the Middle East in which the prevalence of smoking exceeded 20%.

Many Middle Eastern countries registered seriously high levels of daily cigarettes consumption. Smokers in Kuwait consumed an average of 22 cigarettes per day in 2012. The average daily consumption of cigarettes in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman was even higher. Saudi Arabia ranked sixth in the world according to cigarettes consumption with 35 cigarettes a day, while Oman ranked seventh with 33 cigarettes a day. Globally, the number of cigarettes smoked exceeded 6 trillion cigarettes in the world. The average consumption of cigarettes is higher than 20 cigarettes per day in 75 countries in 2012.

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