Adults with chronic pain are commonly smokers, according to a study from Mayo Clinic. The prevalence of smoking habits in patients with fibromyalgia and other conditions such as low back pain and headaches does not seem to have decreased over the last 15 years. Approximately a quarter of patients with fibromyalgia smoke, but the study did not gather enough data to determine if patients’ pain contributed to the reasons for smoking.
“The prevalence of smoking in patients with chronic pain has not declined when compared to the general population,” wrote Dr. Vwaire J. Orhurhu, lead author on the study. “Further research is needed to identify the potential factors that contribute to the high prevalence of smoking in this patient population.”
In the study, “Prevalence of Smoking in Adults with Chronic Pain,” which was published in Tobacco Induced Diseases, the research team from Mayo Clinic surveyed 5,350 patients in the Mayo Comprehensive Pain Rehabilitation Center to estimate the smoking status of all Americans with chronic pain. Patients self-reported their smoking status for the years of 2000, 2005, and 2010.
After 15 years, the researchers had gathered enough data to determine the overall patient population smoking status. Of the 5,350 patients recruited, there were 1,256 (~25%) smokers and 4,094 (~75%) nonsmokers. These patients showed similar smoking statuses, even as time passed (for up to 15 years).
Fibromyalgia was associated with a positive smoking status. Further, more women were smokers than men, indicating another possible link to fibromyalgia, as more women than men are affected. By recognizing that fibromyalgia patients commonly smoke, clinicians may be able to intervene if patient health is being negatively affected by smoking status, or to help their patients gain health while dealing emotionally with chronic pain.