Smoking Worsens Back Arthritis

Ankylosing spondylitis and spondyloarthritis patients worsen their condition by smoking

(RxWiki News) A little over half a century ago, cigarettes were not seen as a danger. Some doctors even recommended them. Today, we know that cigarettes are linked to a variety of health problems, including arthritis.

According to a recent study, people who smoked developed inflammatory back pain earlier than those who did not smoke.

Smokers also had a poorer quality of life.

"Stop smoking today!"

Maxime Dougados, MD, of Paris-Descartes University, and a team of researchers set out to study the link between smoking and outcomes in patients with spondyloarthritis - a family of rheumatic diseases that includes ankylosing spondylitis, reactive arthritis and psoriatic arthritis among others.

These conditions are characterized by joint pain and swelling, particularly in the joints of the spine.

Dr. Dougados and colleagues found that smoking affects spondyloarthritis patients in a number of ways.

First, smoking was associated with an earlier onset of inflammatory back pain.

Smoking also appeared to worsen ankylosing spondylitis. Smokers tended to have worse function, more frequent inflammation and damage of the sacroiliac joints (joints in the pelvis), and more damage to the spine.

Furthermore, smoking was linked to a poorer quality of life.

Since the 1950s, we have come a long way in our understanding of the dangers of smoking. The results of this study show once again that smoking is harmful to our health.

In addition to so many other reasons to quit smoking, these findings should encourage at least those with spondyloarthritis to give up the habit.

The study, which included 647 patients with inflammatory back pain, is published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Review Date: 
May 18, 2012