It goes without saying that smoking is extremely damaging to your body as a whole: it slows bodily processes down, messes with your circulation and blood pressure, and causes your immune system to deteriorate. These things are bad in and of themselves, but when they happen at once they can increase chronic pain. For example, when your arteries tighten and your heart rate jumps and your blood pressure increases– all effects of smoking – it makes it more difficult for blood to reach muscles and oxygenate them. This causes them to weaken and often become painful, especially when you exert them.
Because smoking causes deterioration in so much of the body, it increases the risk of, and pain for, people with conditions such as back pain, neck pain, or arthritis and other joint issues. It causes tissues and discs to wear out more quickly, damages muscles, and causes fatigue; in fact, smokers are more than 2.5 times likely to have chronic pain problems that interfere with daily life than non-smokers.
Smoking also has a degenerative effect on bones and the immune system as a whole. This puts smokers at higher risk of osteoporosis and slows their healing from other bone injuries. And the way it compromises the immune system makes you more prone to illness and less quick to heal from it.
Even for smokers without chronic pain, cigarettes increase perception of pain overall. It’s likely that the nicotine in tobacco adversely affects the nervous systems, and some studies suggest it alters the chemicals dispersed by the brain; in any case, the result is that smokers feel pain more intensely and have more difficulty treating it with pain medication
Quitting can be difficult, but if you are a smoker afflicted with chronic pain or a diagnosed condition, take it as one more reason to discuss quitting tactics with your doctor.