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Want to get rid of back pain? Quit smoking

An observational study published online in the journal Human Brain Mapping suggested that those who smoke are three times more likely to develop chronic back pain compared to non-smokers. According to the researchers, smoking affects the way the brain responds to back pain and seems to make individuals less resilient to an episode of pain. (Read: Why you should quit smoking)

How was the study performed?

The study, carried out by scientists at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in the US, asked 160 study participants (with back pain) about their smoking status and the rate the intensity of their back pain through a questionnaire. Researchers also analysed MRI activity between two brain areas, which are involved in addictive behaviour and motivated learning. (Read: Revealed why quitting smoking is harder for some people)

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What did the study find?

Scientists discovered that the strength of the connection between those two areas of the brain helps determine who will become a chronic back pain patient. This connection was very strong and active in the brain's of smokers. 'But we saw a dramatic drop in this circuit's activity in smokers who - of their own will - quit smoking during the study. When they stopped smoking, their vulnerably to chronic pain also decreased,' Bogdan Petre, technical scientist at the Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in the US added.

What does it conclude?

Medication such as anti-inflammatory drugs did help participants manage pain but it did not change the activity of the brain circuit. Kicking the butt is the only solution if smokers want to get rid of back pain. (Read: Different ways to quit smoking)

Source: IANS

Photo source: Getty images


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