The Relationship Between Cigarette Smoking and the Prevalence, Frequency and Severity of Back Pain


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between smoking and back pain in a cross-sectional analysis. Using the Osteoarthritis Initiative database, a multi-center, longitudinal, observational cohort study with 4796 participants, we examined the prevalence of back pain and of limitations in activity due to back pain, as well as the frequency and severity of back pain in participants who were current smokers compared to those who had never smoked. Data was evaluated using binary and ordinal logistic regression analyses. An increase in prevalence, frequency and severity of back pain was strongly associated with smoking. This demonstrates a relationship between smoking and back pain; however, further studies are needed to evaluate causation. (Journal of Surgical Orthopaedic Advances 29(3):165–168, 2020) Key words: back pain, smoking, osteoarthritis, tobacco, intervertebral disc degeneration, degenerative disc disease

Carolyn R. Postol, DO; David J. Kusin, MD; Charles C. Yu, MD; Jerry Y. Du, MD; Chang Y. Kim, MD; Adam J. Schell, MD; Uri M. Ahn, MD; and Nicholas U. Ahn, MD