(Reuters Health) - - Smoking increases the risk of lower back pain that needs to be fixed by spinal surgery, a Swedish study suggests.
Researchers focused on a common cause of lower back pain known as lumbar spinal stenosis, which occurs when the spinal canal narrows, putting pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. The condition often develops as people age, but nicotines constriction of blood flow and promotion of inflammation are believed to contribute to the process, the study authors write.
The researchers examined data on 331,941 construction workers who were part of a nationwide occupational health registry in Sweden. Workers were followed for an average of more than three decades, starting when they were typically in their 30s, and 1,623 of them eventually had surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis.
Compared to people who never smoked, heavy smokers who went through at least 15 cigarettes a day were 46 percent more likely to have this spinal surgery, the study found. For moderate smokers who had up to 14 cigarettes a day, the increased risk was 31 percent, while ex-smokers had 13 percent higher odds of surgery.
Smoking appears to be a risk factor for developing lower spine space narrowing ...