Many Lower Back Problems a Consequence of Body Shape -- Except Among Smokers
WebMD News Archive
Adams says that behavior such as poor lifting technique naturally can cause
lower back pain. He also noted that one other behavior can: smoking.
Researchers whose findings appeared in the April 1999 issue of Occupational
Medicine came to the same conclusion.
D. Ehrmann Feldman, PhD, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of
Montreal who studied 500 students between grades 7 and 9, agrees. "The most
important finding of the study was that smoking appears to be a risk factor for
the development of low back pain in adolescents," Feldman tells WebMD.
"We found that teens who smoked were approximately 2.5 times as likely to
develop low back pain as nonsmokers. We also found a dose-response association;
those students who smoked more were more likely to develop low back
Feldman says one intriguing aspect of this study of smoking and back pain is
that these students could not have had very long smoking histories since they
were so young. "It may be that relatively short smoking histories are
detrimental to growing tissue," he tells WebMD. While there have been other
studies showing a connection between smoking and lower back pain, the Canadian
research is the first one to show a relationship between smoking and low back
pain in young people.
How does smoking hurt people's backs? Smoking reduces blood circulation all
over the body, even in the tissues of the lower spine. Less circulation means
more risk for back pain and less ability to heal injuries.
Feldman believes this information should be publicized among young people.
While the young are well aware of the risks of cancer and heart disease from
smoking, publicizing those risks haven't had much of an effect on deterring
young people from smoking. "Although anti-smoking campaigns have not been
all that successful with teenagers, it is hoped that as more adverse reactions
to smoking are discovered, the appeal of smoking will be diminished for young
people," Feldman tells WebMD. "Now maybe we can add healthier backs to
the benefits of quitting or not starting."
Feldman believes further study on biological effects of smoking in growing
adolescents on musculoskeletal tissue, specifically, the spine, may be