Quit Smoking to Reduce Chronic Pain


Some people with chronic pain smoke cigarettes, in order to help cope with their pain. The nicotine present in tobacco can make an individual feel good in the short term, as it triggers the release of dopamine, a “feel-good” chemical in the brain. This short-term reward is the reason smoking is so addictive. However, smoking cigarettes may affect chronic pain in the long run. It impairs blood flow, which causes less oxygen and nutrients to be delivered to vital organs, bones, tissues and muscles. This can lead to worsening chronic pain.

Smoking cigarettes is an unhealthy habit that can cause cancer, lung conditions and cardiovascular disease. Smoking can also increase pain from conditions such as fibromyalgia, arthritis and chronic pain. Smokers are three times more likely to get chronic lower back pain as opposed to non-smokers. Chronic smoking also causes fatigue and impairs the immune system.

Tips to quit smoking

  • Set a date to quit.
  • Ask a health care provider about nicotine replacement therapy.
  • Try alternative treatments, such as hypnosis or acupuncture.
  • Learn relaxation methods, such as yoga, meditation or deep breathing exercises.
  • Chew on something like gum, hard candy or mints.
  • Avoid places where smoking is allowed.
  • Engage in physical activities or take a walk.
  • Join a support group or call 1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669).