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Patients With Severe Back Pain Fare Better If They Stop Smoking During Care

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Patients with painful spinal disorders who quit smoking during treatment are better off than those who don’t, according to new research.

In the study, which was published last week in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, researchers examined the smoking history and the reported pain of 5,333 patients with back or leg pain from a spinal disorder, who had surgical or non-surgical spinal care, over an eight-month period.

Current smokers reported significantly greater pain in all visual analogue scale (VAS) pain ratings compared to non-smokers. Patients who had stopped smoking during the study period reported significantly greater improvement in pain for worst, current and average weekly pain compared to those who kept smoking during the care period. The mean improvement in the VAS pain ratings was clinically important in patients in all the three groups of non-smokers, the study revealed.

The findings show that smokers have significantly reduced chances for pain improvement, regardless of the treatment, and highlight the need for smoking cessation programmes for patients with a painful spinal disorder, said the author of the study, Glenn R Rechtine from the Orthopaedics Department of the University of Rochester.