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Long Term Smoking Linked to Chronic Back Pain

Back pain is the most common source of pain that causes people to seek medical attention from their physician. While the pain may set in quickly, getting rid of it can be a much more

Back pain is the most common source of pain that causes people to seek medical attention from their physician. While the pain may set in quickly, getting rid of it can be a much more daunting and time-consuming task. For those who do smoke, cigarettes can be a source of pain relief. However, whether used for relief or not, smoking can actually be a detrimental lifestyle choice for those suffering from chronic back pain and may lead to worsened pain, a slowed healing process, and heightened pain sensitivity.

How does Smoking Affect Chronic Pain?

The nicotine is what makes cigarettes so addictive. Nicotine causes the release of many chemicals in the brain that results in high levels of satisfaction throughout the body and leaves a person wanting to smoke more and more.

Additionally, nicotine may seem to provide a degree of pain relief for some individuals suffering from chronic back pain. However, this relief is only short-lived and does not provide any lasting effects. One study noted that 57 percent of back pain patients that were smokers reported feeling the need to smoke a cigarette to provide pain relief.

In fact, tobacco can actually make the pain worse and maybe one of the root causes of the pain altogether. When the body is injured, it sends lots of cells, oxygen, and nutrients to the area to heal the damaged tissues. When you smoke, the inhalation of tobacco affects your lungs and inhibits the body’s ability to oxygenate the blood that is circulated throughout the body. It can affect your blood vessels as well, causing them to narrow and harden and reducing their functionality.

The spine is a delicate area of the body, and because the spinal discs are composed primarily of connective tissue and cartilage, they receive limited blood flow, to begin with. This alone makes it more difficult for the spinal discs to heal themselves if they become injured. Restricted blood flow and oxygen due to cigarettes makes this problem even worse and can slow down the healing process substantially.

Cigarettes have also been linked to an increased risk for developing osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease that occurs when your body breaks down old bone faster than it can create new bone. This causes your bones to be fragile and increases the risk for fractures. If osteoporosis occurs in the spine, it can significantly increase the risk for spinal injury and chronic pain.

In addition to this, one of the most effective ways to slow the progression of osteoporosis is through exercise. But, smokers tend to be less active than non-smokers with the same demographics. A sedentary lifestyle and the health risks associated with it compounded with the other negative side effects of smoking can have a severe negative impact on the health of your back and body as a whole.

The Research

One study evaluated back pain risk and questioned whether it was any different in smokers versus non-smokers. They looked at 160 participants that had recently been diagnosed with acute back pain that lasted between four and 12 weeks, 32 individuals with chronic pain lasting longer than five years, and 35 people reporting no pain.

Over the course of a year, each participant filled out five questionnaires that asked questions about smoker status and other health issues and conditions. Each participant also underwent MRI scans so that their brain interaction and communication could be evaluated to determine addictive behaviors and learned motivation.

The specific areas of the brain being looked at were the nucleus accumbens and the medial prefrontal cortex. Researchers found that these areas of the brain played major roles in pain development. They discovered that if these two areas have a strong connection with one another, the body has a more difficult time fighting chronic pain. The study results of the MRI scans showed that smokers generally had a stronger connection between these brain regions and were three times more likely to develop chronic pain than those who had never smoked.

Other studies have demonstrated similar results. One study looked at nearly 35,000 people and assessed back pain severity and whether the individual had smoked cigarettes. Researchers found that 23.5 percent of those who had never smoked suffered from back pain, 33.1 percent of former smokers had pain, and 36.9 percent of current smokers reported pain. It was also noted that a higher number of cigarettes smoked each day correlated to a higher probability of back pain.

While the negative effect of cigarettes on the lungs and heart are well known, their impact on chronic pain is not as publicly advertised. This harmful behavior can have a significant impact on your spinal health, increasing the risk of being affected by chronic back pain and decreasing your body’s ability to heal itself from the damage.

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/284869.php
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5081254/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1829566

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Narciso Gonzalez III, M.D.

  • 2130 NE LOOP 410, SUITE 375, SAN ANTONIO, TX 78217
  • 210-634-1232

SPECIALTY

Dr. Gonzalez specializes in advanced fluoroscopic and ultrasound guided procedural interventions to treat all types of pain syndromes. From bursal injections to kyphoplasty for vertebral compression fractures he is skilled in most advanced pain procedures.

Dr. Gonzalez believes in taking a multi-modal approach for all patients. He will never turn down the opportunity to treat a patient even with the most long-standing difficult to treat pain syndromes. He understands the value of using an individualized comprehensive multi-modal approach for each patient.

EDUCATION & DEGREES

  • 2010-2011 Pain Medicine Fellowship
    UT Health Science Center – San Antonio
    UT Pain Consultants, Audie Murphy VA

     

  • 2006-2010 Anesthesiology Residency
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    Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital

     

  • 2002-2006 Medical Degree
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  • 1998-2002 B.A Biology
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CERTIFICATIONS & LICENSES

  • Board Certified in Pain Medicine – 2011
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Kevin Pauza, M.D. - Texas Spine and Joint Hospital

Prior to attending Penn State University, Dr. Pauza earned his undergraduate degree from Lehigh University, and furthered his training with a Surgical and Medical Internship at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He continued his specialty training at the University of Pennsylvania, followed by an Interventional Spine Fellowship. In addition to his research, philanthropic, and clinical endeavors, Dr. Pauza remains a motivated educator. He established a Spine Fellowship program and continues training physicians from around the world. He heads international committees responsible for establishing standards and educating surgical and non-surgical physicians.

  • 801 Turtle Creek Dr., Tyler, Texas 75701
  • 903-593-2222

SPECIALTY

  • Disc Biologics
  • Interventional Spine

EDUCATION & DEGREES

  • Fellowship: Interventional Spine, University of Pennsylvania
  • Residency: PM&R, University of Pennsylvania
  • Internship: Surgery & Medicine, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
  • Medical Doctorate: Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine
  • Bachelor of Arts: Biology, Lehigh University
  • Bachelor of Arts: Psychology, Lehigh University

CERTIFICATIONS & LICENSES

  • Texas State Medical and Surgical License
  • New York State Medical and Surgical License
  • Florida State Medical and Surgical License

HONORS

  • Lehigh University Four-year Academic Scholarship
  • Magna Cum Laude, Lehigh University
  • Lehigh University President’s Award
  • Lehigh University Tower Society
  • Distinguished Alumnus, Penn State University (selected from 500,000 Penn State alumni)
  • North American Spine Society, Outstanding Paper of the Year, 2003
  • President-Elect, International Spine Intervention Society
  • Founding Partner, Texas Spine and Joint Hospital
  • Commencement Speaker: Penn State University College of Medicine
  • Advisory Board, AMA
    Keynote Speaker, Harvard Pain Center Commencement
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EXPERIENCE

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Maxim Moradian, M.D. - Interventional Spine Care & Orthopedic Regenerative Experts

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Desmond Hussey, M.D. - NASA Neuroscience and Spine Associates. P.L

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Dr. Buyanov is originally from Kiev, Ukraine. He received his training in Anesthesiology and his Interventional Pain Management Post-Doctoral at Penn State Medical Center, PA. Dr. Buyanov moved to San Antonio in 2003 at which time he was part of a multi-specialty group before he founded Premier Pain Consultants in 2004. His practice has over 5000 active patients in his practice. Dr. Buyanov treats his patients in a cost-effective manner although giving them the best care with interventional pain treatments/procedure to help each patient improve their quality of life. Dr. Buyanov strongly believes in an individualized and multidisciplinary approach to pain management, he believes in the Buddhist saying: “pain is inevitable but suffering is optional”. He works closely with the area internists, physical therapists, chiropractors, psychiatrists, neurologists, and spine surgeons to insure that each patient has the most optimal individualized treatment plan. Dr. Buyanov enjoys spending his spare time with his children.

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Dr. Pearl is Board Certified in Regenerative Medicine, Pain Medicine and Anesthesiology with the American Board of Regenerative Medicine and the American Board of Anesthesiologists.

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  • 508-231-2700

Memberships:

  • The American Pain Society;
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  • The American Society of Anesthesiologists;
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PUBLIC SERVICE:

  • Member, Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents, Health Care Services Board 
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  • Past Member of the Board of Directors of the Harvard Alumni Association
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  • 62 E 88th Street, New York, New York 10128
  • 646-870-7997

SPECIALTY

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EDUCATION & DEGREES

  • Fellowship: Interventional Spine, University of Pennsylvania
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  • Medical Doctorate: Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine
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  • Bachelor of Arts: Psychology, Lehigh University

CERTIFICATIONS & LICENSES

  • Texas State Medical and Surgical License
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HONORS

  • Lehigh University Four-year Academic Scholarship
  • Magna Cum Laude, Lehigh University
  • Lehigh University President’s Award
  • Lehigh University Tower Society
  • Distinguished Alumnus, Penn State University (selected from 500,000 Penn State alumni)
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  • Founding Partner, Texas Spine and Joint Hospital
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