A recent study by researchers at the University of Southampton, England, suggests a possible link between musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and cigarette smoking in both current and former smokers.
Published in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, the study of nearly 13,000 smoking and non-smoking respondents ages 16 to 64, looked at pain in the low back, neck, and upper and lower limbs during the preceding year. Questions were also asked regarding smoking habits, physical activities at work, headaches, tiredness and stress. The goal of the study was to determine whether or not a link existed between MSDs and cigarette smoking.
The results showed that in comparison to lifetime non-smokers, current and ex-smokers had higher risks of pain for all locations. The link was particularly strong in patients who reported pain that was preventing them from performing normal activities. Of respondents, those who currently smoke had about a 50 percent higher incidence of reporting pain that prevented them from performing activities including work and recreation. The association existed regardless of whether the respondent’s job required heavy lifting or moving.
According to the study, the association between tobacco smoke and MSD-related pain could be related to the effects of tobacco smoke on a person’s pain response, or because people with a low threshold for reporting pain and disability might be more likely to start smoking, or because tobacco smoking could cause damage to musculoskeletal tissues.
Source: Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, Reuters