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Smoking Could Lead To Additional Pain In Injured Patients

Smoking has long been recognized as a harmful habit, and a fatal one at that, but new research has shown that smoking may also increase pain that people feel from spinal cord injuries and other pain. The latest study compiled data from an experiment in which mice were exposed to what humans would consider 12 cigarettes daily. What they found was that acrolein, a chemical found in the tobacco smoke, was causing more pain when concentrated In the body. The study was performed by Riyi Shi, a professor working out of Purdue University, in the department of Basic Medical Sciences, as well as out of the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. This was one of the first ever animal studies that demonstrated how smoking during the week could cause acrolein accumulation in urine, and unfortunately, in the tissues of the spinal cord. The spinal cord tissue is well documented as a central area of the nervous system, and thus is highly vulnerable to this acrolein. Medical News Today writes: “The researchers documented the concentration of biochemical markers for acrolein in the urine and spinal cord. Findings, appearing this week in the journal Neuroscience Bulletin, indicate the accumulation of the toxin was about 50 percent higher than normal, a level known to have pathological implications.”

The researchers also found that the chemical was sucked up by the circulatory system, which meant that it would be circulating throughout the body, and could enter the nervous system as well. Further studies will be necessary to know what affects this could have long term on humans, but for the time being, what is known for sure is that the acrolein plays a definite role in the pain that is felt by injured patients.

Pain And Smoking

It has already been documented that smoking can cause pain for people with various conditions including cancer survivors, injured patients, and those with multiple sclerosis, but it was never known why this occurred. Now, with this new knowledge about the role that acrolein plays in the body in regards to pain, the case might be solved as far as how inhaled acrolein and the nervous system play into each other. This makes it more important than ever before that those addicted to cigarettes quit while they can, especially if the pain is already something that they are dealing with. Minnesota Medicine says: “Smoking produces profound changes in physiology beyond those associated with the delivery of nicotine to the bloodstream. It has long been known that these changes put patients at risk for heart disease, cancers, and lung diseases. More recently, it has been discovered that smoking is a risk factor for chronic pain.”

One of the positive outcomes of this realization, of course, is that smoking is not a permanent fixture in your life, and while it can be very difficult for some smokers to quit, it is possible, which means that some of your pain can be disbanded if you’re willing to rid yourself of this particular habit.

Losing Your Cigarettes

The pain that has been associated with cigarette smoke and nicotine in relation to already occurring problems may not dissipate immediately after you quit, which is why it is important to lose your cigarettes as soon as possible. A nicotine patch and other methods of adding nicotine to your body without the use of a cigarette may also carry unwanted side-affects, so if you have the will power to stop smoking all at once, you may be doing yourself more favors than if you choose one of the many new quitting tools available on the market today. Help Guide explains: “Eliminating that regular fix of nicotine will cause your body to experience physical withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Because of nicotine’s “feel good” effect on the brain, you may also have become accustomed to smoking as a way of coping with stress, depression, anxiety, or even boredom.”

If you are having problems quitting, your doctor may be able to give you some suggestions, or direct you to a specialist who can. Sometimes an aid may be necessary, while for you holistic practices could be more than enough to rid your mind and body of the cravings associated with cigarettes, and the unfortunately side-effects of quitting. Not everybody has a hard time cutting this habit from their life, but you could find yourself smoking again and having to quit again if you don’t initially complete the process of eliminating them from your life the first time around.

If you or somebody that you know is experiencing chronic pain symptoms, and you know that they are a smoker, even if it isn’t a regular occurrence, you should make the suggestion of a visit to the physician. Although doctors don’t quite know all of the ins and outs that link pain and nicotine, they may be able to help in more ways than one.

Mitchell Cohen, M.D.

Mitchell Cohen, M.D. is Board Certified in Orthopedic Medicine and Spinal Surgery. Dr. Cohen graduated from Hahnemann University in Philadelphia, PA with a degree in Human Physiology in 1983 and received his medical degree in 1987 from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Dr Cohen did his Surgical Residency at the University of New Mexico in 1992 as well as a Spine Fellowship in 1993. Dr. Cohen has also published several publications which include “Biomechanical Efficiency of Spinal Systems in Thorocolumbar Fractures” (1993), “Kaneda Anterior Spinal Instrumentation” and “Spinal Fusion Stabilization and many more publications. Dr. Cohen enjoys and has a passion for telehealth and teleconsults and he truly believes it is the way of the future of medicine especially from a convenience standpoint. View the bio in detail.

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