Your Back Pain and Smoking

Do you really need another reason to quit smoking?

Ok, you got it.

People often describe their lower back pain as a real pain in the butt, literally. What many do not know is that researchers are finding stronger and stronger evidence between smoking and lower back pain- which lends itself to the play on words: skip the butt to soothe the butt

Last week I spoke on the calorie connection to lower back pain. This week we’re all about smoking cessation for back pain eradication.

Yes, the rhymes and word play are over

Or are they?

No. No they are not

It’s easy to vilify both cigarette companies and smokers themselves as a non-smoker. In NY, you’re are not allowed to smoke indoors in most public places, but to be honest- I’ve given the ol’ side eye when someone was smoking even outdoors in a public place. It’s gross, and I honestly believe 99% of smokers agree with that. That being said, if we take an objective look at the detriments of smoking, the list is long, but back pain doesn’t seem to fit in with the threats of cancer, lung disease, heart attack, stroke- does it?



Acute Back Pain

There is a lot of research and studies on management and prevention of acute back pain. A 50 year study… A FIFTY YEAR STUDY… has found a connection between smoking and lower back pain. The same study found high blood pressure and coronary artery disease (both, along with smoking, are risk factors for atherosclerosis or narrowing of the vessels that carry blood). This lends support to the theory that poor blood flow leads to lower back pain due to arthritis in the spine (spondylosis) and shrinking of the soft jelly filled discs in between each vertebrae (degenerative disc disease).


A cyclops giraffe wearing a boom mic?


Chronic Low Back Pain

Researchers have found that smokers who suffer from chronic back pain have a very strong connection between the part of the brain that focuses on reward and the part of the brain that manages memory and decision making. After some computing, the study stated people who smoke are 3 times more likely to suffer from recurring lower back pain.

Good news! When smokers attempted to quit, there was a breakdown in that connection and vulnerability to chronic pain reduced as well!


So, smoking is the culprit. A contributing factor to both the acuity and chronic nature of lower back pain. Anyone shocked? Didn’t think so.

You, a smoker, read this article and maybe now you’re thinking to yourself, “Self, I don’t want to start/continue having back pain.” Wonderful, you’re on the right track! There are many resources to help you quit, so below is by no means an exhaustive list, however, it’s a start…

Different Methods to Help You to Quit Smoking

Nicotine Replacement: the patch, the gum, inhalers, lozenges, sprays. Helps you break your addiction from tobacco, but not nicotine

Behavioral Therapy: Meeting with a therapist to assist in breaking the reliance on your addiction through removing triggers.

Cold Turkey: The traditional lunch on Black Friday or quitting without any assistance

Pharmaceutical intervention: Zyban or Chantix to manage withdrawal cravings




Be well,



P.s. the rest of this post will be really bad word plays about smoking and back pain

Bending too tough? Don’t ask for a puff

For back pain, it’s the answer- drop the habit that causes cancer

Back feels like it’s been stung? Drop the junk that hurts your Lung

Want to get back to dancing flamenco? Do yourself a favor and drop the tobacco

Can’t stand up without a lean? Time to give up the nicotine


These were really bad, but I promise I only included the best ones, so there’s that…


Dr. Daniel Davids PT

(646) 733-4737



2 thoughts on “Your Back Pain and Smoking

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s