Are you wondering if your cigarette smoking or tobacco use is affecting your fibromyalgia (FM) pain? Does second-hand smoke make you feel ill? Current research will give you more reason to kick the habit or convince your spouse or partner to stop. In two recent studies, FM patients who smoke report having more painful symptoms than non-smoking FM patients.1,2
In one study, researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota evaluated the symptoms of 984 FM patients. The patients responded to questions pertaining to their level of pain, fatigue, number of tender points, how their pain interfered with their physical function, depression, and anxiety. The responses were entered into an electronic database and analyses were divided into two groups, tobacco users and non-tobacco users.
The second study done in Turkey compared the severity of symptoms among 302 FM patients and 115 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The FM patients’ data were divided into smokers and non-smokers. When comparing all the FM to the RA patients, FM patients reported more severe symptoms associated with widespread pain, fatigue, sleepiness and sleep disturbances, irritating skin sensations, and more anxiety and depression regardless if they smoked or not.
Reviewing both studies, patients with FM who smoked reported higher levels of chronic-widespread pain, unrefreshing sleep, more adverse skin sensations including pricking and tingling, and more anxiety and depression than non-smokers. In addition to these symptoms, the tobacco users in the Mayo Clinic study also reported fewer good days and more days of missed work than the non-smokers. Neither study found a difference in the number of tender points or fatigue level between smokers and non-smokers.
These results confirm a previous study done with 233 FM patients by Muhammad Yunus, M.D., of the University of Illinois College of Medicine. He found that FM patients who smoked had increased pain scores, numbness, and poorer overall wellness. In addition, the greater the number of cigarettes smoked, the higher the patient’s pain score.3
What is it about smoking that could cause a detrimental effect on FM pain? The nicotine in cigarettes is a psychostimulant that arouses the central and peripheral nervous systems and constricts blood flow to the muscles. These two factors could adversely impact the pain processing system, as well as the musculoskeletal tissues. Yunus and the Mayo Clinic team also refer to previous studies that correlate FM smokers with a higher level of substance P in their spinal fluid than FM non-smokers. Substance P is a pain-related chemical transmitter that is already known to be elevated in FM patients, and higher levels could be a sign of increased pain.
One positive aspect of the study done at the Mayo Clinic showed that only 14 percent of the FM patients were smokers. This figure is lower than the 20 percent national average for the United States.4 Interestingly, in the Coping with Sleep Issues survey distributed by the Fibromyalgia Network last month, 6.2 percent of nearly 5,000 FM patients who responded said they stopped smoking to ensure better sleep at night. Apparently, these FM patients determined on their own that smoking was either interfering with sleep or causing painful symptoms. Since smoking a single cigarette introduces hundreds of toxic compounds into the body, many of which are known cancer-causing agents, it only makes sense that FM patients who are usually sensitive to chemicals would choose not to smoke.5 And while researches have not determined if FM patients who quit smoking experience less pain, they are convinced that tobacco use adds to painful symptoms.
If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to quit smoking (or help a family member quit), it certainly is not too late. The U.S. government offers a dozen resources to start you or your partner on the path to a smoke-free life: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/quit_smoking/how_to_quit/index.htm
1. Pamuk O.N., et al. Rheumatol Int DOI 10.1007/s00296-009-0851-5 2009, Jan 20. Epub ahead of print.
I hope that this helps some...
Thanks Karen for the article- just another reminder on why I need to quit smoking.
Kelly- So proud of you! I know it is not easy to quit smoking as I have done it twice. I know that when I quit this time around it will be the last. I think that is why it is so hard to pick a date.
Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis, scoliosis, back problems, hypothyroidism.
I have: Fibromyalgia, ME/CFS, Holt-Oram Syndrome, nasal allergies, food allergies, depression, TMJ, anxiety
Married to a wonderful supportive husband & between us we have 4 children & 7 grandchildren
As apples of gold in silver carvings is a word spoken at the right time for it. Prov. 25:11
I had a friend that used acupuncture to quit smoking. He was a 3 pack a day smoker and hasn't smoked in 3 years now. They put the needles in the cartiledge in the ear. OUCH!
I came across this and it uses the same basic technique...auricular treatment...but no needles! They have been using this in a hospital in Miami. Here is an article about it. It's calles Zerosmoke.
I did buy this for each of my daughters for Christmas but they haven't tried it. Hopefully, some day they will. It cost $40 last Christmas. Hope this can help some. Oh, there is a 30 money back guarantee, too.
Post Edited (Grailhunter) : 4/5/2009 1:25:23 PM (GMT-6)