Low back pain (LBP) affects nearly everyone at some time or another, and it is one of the most common diagnoses treated in physical therapy clinics. Specific exercises and postural correction are commonly prescribed to treat LBP, and occasionally therapeutic modalities like ultrasound or heat are used to help treat the symptoms coming from your back.
Previous research has shown that people who smoke are more likely to have LBP, and smokers suffer from inferior outcomes following low back surgery. Smoking is a risk factor that can be stoped to help to decrease LBP and other chronic pain disorders.
A recent study in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery has shown that people with LBP who smoke suffer from greater pain than those peolple with LBP who never smoked or who stopped smoking during treatment for their condition.
The researchers reviewed records of 5333 patients with low back pain and sciatica. Measures of smoking status, pain level, and disability were recorded and were monitored during treatment. Treatment lasted an average period of 8 months.
At the onset of the study, non-smokers and previous smokers had less low back pain than current smokers. Smokers had greater pain during the treatment period compared to non-smokers and smokers who quit during the treatment period. In fact, the group of LBP sufferers who smoked showed no clinically significant improvement in pain levels during treatment. Disability status was significantly improved in non-smokers when compared to smokers.
If you have low back pain, active participation in a physical therapy program may help to decrease pain and improve functional mobility. If you smoke cigarettes, engaging in a smoking cessation program may help you decrease your pain level during treatment.