Chiropractors might not be the first group you think of when it comes to getting help quitting smoking, but they have a big opportunity to help their patients make a positive change in their lives, and many are seizing it.
Chiropractors offer effective treatment for back pain, and although their specialty is making such adjustments, there is a lot of potential for them to help smokers quit too. The connection between chiropractors and quitting smoking isn’t something most people would expect, but there are many ways chiropractors can use their skills to do something positive for their patients who smoke. Although you might not be able to adjust your way to being nicotine-free, the link between smoking and back pain, the stress-inducing effect of constant pain and the time patients spend in chiropractors’ offices all offer them opportunities to encourage you to kick the habit.
Smoking and Lower Back Pain: An Unexpected Link
Smoking and lower back pain are more closely connected than you may think. A meta-analysis published in 2010 looked at 40 different studies addressing the association between smoking and back pain, and found that both current and former smokers were more likely to have problems with their back than never-smokers. The authors point out that the association wasn’t big, but they did find a statistically significant link.
The assumption is that smoking contributes to lower back pain, and this provides a good reason for chiropractors to encourage their patients to quit smoking, beyond the well-established health benefits of quitting. The association doesn’t mean that quitting smoking will resolve your back issues, but it does suggest that smoking may be worsening or in some way contributing to the issue.
Stress, Smoking and Lower Back Pain: How Chiropractors Can Help You Quit Smoking
The previous section showed that quitting smoking may help the work chiropractors do be more effective, but chiropractors could also have a beneficial impact on your smoking habits too.
The reason for this comes down to a knock-on effect resulting from back pain and poor posture. Being in constant pain is understandably stressful, and this stress can either lead you to start smoking for temporary relief, or it could make you smoke more than you already do. Chiropractic adjustment has been shown to help with lower back pain, and is the reason most patients visit a chiropractor.
When your back pain has been dealt with, your posture is likely to improve, and the absence of pain in your day-to-day life will reduce your stress and improve your mood. Although the effect of chiropractic adjustment on quitting smoking isn’t direct, this reduction in stress can make it easier to get through the day without smoking, and when combined with evidence-based approaches to quitting smoking, it could make quitting and staying away from cigarettes much easier.
Chiropractors and Quitting Smoking: Brief Interventions for Patients
The improvements to back pain coming from chiropractic treatment could have a knock-on effect that makes it easier to quit smoking, but chiropractors can also have a more direct effect on your smoking.
Chiropractors see patients regularly, and a big part of chiropractic care – as with most medical care – involves developing positive relationships with patients. This gives chiropractors a great opportunity to ask about smoking and even offer brief interventions to encourage and help patients quit. The feasibility of such a practice has been studied, and showed generally positive results.
The approach used in the study and recommended by chiropractic organizations is to ask patients about their smoking histories and to provide information about quitting smoking. All an individual chiropractor would have to do is ask some basic smoking history questions (to determine whether the individual smokes or is exposed to second-hand smoke), follow-up with returning patients about their smoking status, and refer anybody in need of help to a specialist, or suggest good locations for educational material.
Chiropractors can also help patients quit smoking more indirectly by ensuring their office remains smoke-free, and by displaying prominent “no smoking” signs along with brochures looking at the risks of tobacco. The aim isn’t to push patients into making a decision to quit, but to provide subtle reminders of the health risks of smoking and emphasize that as a medical professional, you are concerned about his or her health because of it.
Quitting Smoking and Staying Smoke-Free: Chiropractors Can Help
The key message for chiropractors is to seize the opportunity you have to both educate patients about the risks of smoking and to promote living smoke-free as the healthier choice. For the patient, the help chiropractors can offer for your back pain could reduce stress and thereby diminish your desire to smoke, but with regular contact, your chiropractor may star to encourage you to quit and point you in the right direction to get further support.