Smokers Feel More Pain Than Non-Smokers

Smokers Feel More Pain
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Smokers or those who are exposed to secondhand smoke may require heavier doses of anesthesia and painkillers during surgery. A new study found that cigarettes—which are filled with more than 4,000 chemicals—can not only affect the metabolism of anesthetic drugs in the liver but may also influence nerve cells involved in the sensation of pain.

Among 90 women who underwent a total abdominal hysterectomy, those who smoked needed 33 percent more anesthesia throughout their operation than did non-smokers; meanwhile, passive smokers required 20 percent more anesthesia. Cigarette users also needed 23 percent more prescription painkillers than non-smokers to experience the same level of effectiveness.

Researchers said doctors and anesthesiologists should factor smoking into their decisions, while people who smoke should weigh yet another cost of their addiction.

The Oxford Journal on Rheumatology hypothesizes that the reason for a higher of incidence of back pain amongst those that smoke is that smoking leads to malnutrition of discs, which in turn become more brittle and vulnerable to stress. Nicotine constricts blood vessels (known as nicotine-induced vasoconstriction), and can potentially cause changes to interior arterial walls and blood flow. More efficient blood flow may be the reason why the anti-smoking crowd has less back pain.

A study of 3,222 people who smoke and people that do not, conducted by the Division of Clinical Epidemiology in Montreal, Canada concluded that smokers have more frequent episodes of back pain than non-smokers, providing further evidence that quitting smoking is an important consideration for back pain sufferers.

Physicians also link smoking with fatigue and slower healing, factors that make painful conditions more prominent. Researchers are exploring even more physiological reasons why smoking makes people with fibromyalgia, arthritis and other chronic pain hurt more.

Taking steps to quit smoking can lead to overall better health and well-being. Those who have quit smoking have reported having more energy, more positive mental states, and less aches and pains overall.