Smoking is common practice in Malaysia. The prevalence of smoking amongst Malaysian men alone is about 46%. Research shows that as well as damaging the respiratory system, smoking is strongly associated with cancer and cardiovascular diseases and even causes harm to the urinary and reproductive systems. According to WHO statistics, worldwide on average one person dies from smoking every six seconds and those who use tobacco products lose on average 15 years of life expectancy.
Besides that, smoking is also known to be a causative factor for chronic pain.Chronic (non-cancer related) pain is a critical national health problem with an annual economic impact of over $125 billion in health care costs and lost productivity. Although pain prevalence estimates derived from population-based surveys range as high as 64%, the preponderance of data suggests that approximately 22–30% of adults in the United States (or about 50–70 million people age 18 years and over) suffers from chronic pain.
Neck and Low Back Pain
One of the mechanism as to how smoking affects low back pain is disc degeneration via malnutrition of spinal disc cells by carboxy-hemoglobin-induced anoxia or vascular disease . Carbon Monoxide that is found in cigarettes may damage the interior lining of blood vessels, causing a decrease in their ability to carry oxygen , leading to tissue starvation, degeneration, and death . There are evidences that nicotine may accelerate inter-vertebral disc degeneration by initiating cell damage in both the disc material, influencing the metabolism of the inter-vertebral discs. Also, disc degeneration among cigarette smokers appears to be more severe than disc degeneration observed in nonsmokers. There is a possibility that disc-degeneration due to smoking may be reversed if smokers were to cease smoking.Lastly, smoking has been said to accelerate bone loss, resulting in changes of bone micro-architecture, leading to vertebral deformities and loss of spinal stability.
According to a survey on tobacco smoking and headache pain, the survey revealed that smokers were 1.5 times more likely to report headaches than were never smokers. It has been noted that frequent use of nicotine and other chemicals found in tobacco smoke increases the sensitivity of pain receptors in the brain, thus modulating the neurological processing of sensory information.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes progressive joint destruction, and leads to restricted activities of daily living and deteriorating quality of life. A recent review of risk factors for RA development concluded that smoking acts synergistically with other RA risk factors, including IgM-rheumatoid factor, anti-CCP, and shared epitopes.
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