Smoking and Chronic Pain. What You Should Know


You’ve heard that smoking is bad for your health countless times. If you struggle with chronic pain and use smoking as a way to cope, you may believe that smoking calms your nerves making you feel more relaxed. A recent study published in the Journal of Pain found that smoking may also intensify pain sensitivity and worsen joint and abdominal pain. About 18 percent of Americans are smokers and these individuals make up more than 50 percent of the patients who receive pain treatment each year.

The nicotine in tobacco triggers the release of chemicals like dopamine in the brain, which can fool your body into feeling satisfied. Despite the reward sensation that goes along with smoking, tobacco impairs the transport of oxygen-filled blood to tissues and bones. Decreased blood flow and nutrients through your system can result in lower back pain, degeneration of spinal discs, and in some cases osteoporosis.

Whether or not you suffer from chronic pain should not influence your need to quit smoking. If you have a smoking habit and suffer from chronic pain, the ability to quit smoking could potentially be the life-saving treatment that you are looking for.

To help individuals find pain relief through quitting their smoking habit, pain management specialists have provided the following guidance to patients:

Set a date 

Schedule the exact day and time that they will quit smoking.

Talk to experts

Dial 1-800-QUIT-NOW to receive support from trained coaches.

Get support 

Establish a team of friends and family to lend support.

Find a community group 

Join an outside support group.

Make an appointment 

Make an appointment with your primary care physician to discuss using nicotine replacements and medication to ease cravings.

Consider alternatives 

Consider alternative therapies such as hypnosis or acupuncture. Begin starting a new exercise program to replace the nicotine’s satisfying effects with those coming from the endorphins that are released during physical activities.

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