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Kicking The Habit Could Actually Reduce Your Pain

PHOTO: Dr. Dermot More-O'Ferrall, president of Advanced Pain Management, says research shows smoking re-wires the brain's pain receptors, smokers get less relief from pain medications than non-smokers, and that smokers have a higher incidence of degenerative disk disease. Photo courtesy of Advanced Pain Management SC.
PHOTO: Dr. Dermot More-O'Ferrall, president of Advanced Pain Management, says research shows smoking re-wires the brain's pain receptors, smokers get less relief from pain medications than non-smokers, and that smokers have a higher incidence of degenerative disk disease. Photo courtesy of Advanced Pain Management SC.
December 29, 2014

MILWAUKEE, Wis. – Kicking the smoking habit is a popular New Year's resolution, and now research shows quitting tobacco could lessen pain in other parts of the body and improve the functioning of pain medications.

"If you look at studies looking at some of the more common prescribed opioid medications you'll note that smokers tend to get less pain relief from a similar dose," says Dr. Dermot More-O'Ferrall of Milwaukee, president of Advanced Pain Management.

Advanced Pain Management is a for-profit group of clinics specializing in pain management.

Research done by the Mayo Clinic has found that smoking actually increases pain perception. And More-O'Ferrall says there are plenty of other reasons to quit tobacco.

"So if you stop smoking, you reduce your risk of heart disease, which can give you chronic chest pain, you reduce your risk of peripheral artery disease, a circulation problem where you can get some pain in your legs when you walk,” he explains. “Cutting smoking certainly reduces your risk of developing those other chronic painful conditions as well."

More-O'Ferrall says recent studies at Northwestern University suggest that smoking can essentially re-wire the brain to make smokers feel more pain.

According to More-O'Ferrall, the Mayo Clinic studies have shown that smokers are more likely to experience back pain.

"Smokers have a higher incidence of degenerative disc disease just because smoking impairs circulation and you can't get good nutrition to the discs after they're injured to repair the disc,” he stresses. “And as you get more acceleration and that wear and tear on the disc, inability to heal it, that can then sometimes result in a chronic painful condition."

More-O'Ferrall says the common New Year's resolutions to quit smoking and lose weight are popular for a good reason.

"It definitely makes sense to make those positive lifestyle changes not just to make you look better, feel better, and have more money in your pocket, but overall to live a longer and happier life," he says.


Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI