Smoking Worsens Pain of Auto Injuries
Following an auto collision, there are many factors affecting how victims heal from their injuries. Smoking is one factor that has been found to prolong recovery and worsen the pain of auto injuries. Recent research has shown that smoking worsens symptoms associated with a wide range of injuries commonly caused by auto collisions, from back pain to TMD to traumatic brain injuries.
According to one recent study, smokers are more likely to suffer long-term effects from mild traumatic brain injuries (MTBI). Chronic smoking was found to affect neurocognitive function such as processing speed, memory measures, and visuospatial memory following MTBI. Greater duration and frequency of smoking was related to significantly less improvement in neurocognitive function following MTBI. These results suggest that chronic cigarette smoking should be considered as a potential factor influencing recovery from traumatic brain injuries.
Another recent study evaluated the impact on smoking on pain severity and other symptoms experienced by patients with temporomandibular disorders (TMD). The analysis, involving 3,251 patients with TMD, found that smokers reported higher pain severity, impaired movement, anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances than nonsmokers. These patients are at higher risk for factors that could negatively impact the outcome of treatment.
Previous studies have also linked smoking with chronic pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia, sciatica, chronic neck pain, and chronic back pain, as well as with spinal disorders. Quitting smoking has been found to improve spinal pain associated with chronic conditions such as arthritis, sciatica, and lower back pain.
These findings support the need for smoking cessation support for patients being treated for auto injuries. Patients with brain injuries could also benefit from addiction treatment, since new research shows that TBI patients have a higher risk of drug and alcohol addictions.
Durazzo T, Abadjian L, Kinkaid A, Bilovsky-Muniz T, Boreta L, Gauger G. The influence of chronic cigarette smoking on neurocognitive recovery after mild traumatic brain injury. Journal of Neurotrauma 2013. [Epub ahead of print]
de Leeuw R, Eisenlohr-Moul T, Bertrand P. The association of smoking status with sleep disturbance, psychological functioning, and pain severity in patients with temporomandibular disorders. Journal of Orofacial Pain 2013; 27(1): 32-41.