The relationship between cigarette smoking and chronic low back pain

Addict Behav. 1991;16(3-4):103-10. doi: 10.1016/0306-4603(91)90002-y.


This study investigated the extent to which habitual cigarette smoking relates to physical and psychological indices of chronic pain. From a review of patient records, 54% of back pain patients referred for treatment of their pain admitted to smoking cigarettes. Response from a smoking questionnaire showed that 57% of the patients who smoked reported having a need to smoke when they were in pain. Most patients (91%), however, believed that smoking had no effect on their pain intensity. When smoking and nonsmoking back pain patients were compared, the smokers showed significantly higher levels of emotional distress, they tended to remain inactive, and they relied on medication more often than the nonsmoking patients. The results further suggest that pain patients are at risk for increasing smoking behavior when they are experiencing periods of heightened pain intensity.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Back Pain / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Personality Tests
  • Sick Role
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Social Adjustment