People who experience back pain can reap enormous rewards from quitting smoking. However, quitting is easier said than done. Every year, 46 percent of smokers attempt to quit, with as few as 10 percent achieving short-term success. The long-term success rate is even lower. To help combat these long odds, pharmaceutical companies have developed a number of smoking cessation medications.
Be sure to check with your medical provider to see if any of these options may be right for your lifestyle.
Types of smoking cessation drugs
There are several types of medication available to help people quit smoking. The three most common kinds are:
- Nicotine replacement drugs – These types of drugs are perhaps the most well-known smoking cessation medications on the market. Some products that fall under this category include non-prescription nicotine gums and patches, as well as prescription nasal sprays.
- Varenicline – This prescription-only drug works by blocking the nicotine receptors in the brain. Since these receptors are what cause smokers to get pleasurable sensations from smoking, this medication can help reduce the desire to smoke. It can also keep quitters who relapse from falling completely off the wagon, since the brain is not stimulated by the nicotine inhaled during the relapse.
- Bupropion – This prescription medication is actually an antidepressant that has also been found to help people stop smoking. Bupropion contains no nicotine, so unlike with nicotine replacement drugs, it is not important to stop smoking prior to beginning treatment. Bupropion has been found to reduce the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and reduce the desire to smoke over time.
Concerns associated with smoking cessation drugs
Like most medications, smoking cessation drugs can have adverse side effects for the people who take them. Nicotine replacement drugs are a continued source of nicotine, so users who continue to smoke after taking them risk nicotine overdose. Varenicline can cause headache, nausea and other gastric side effects, as well as difficulty sleeping. Bupropion carries a risk of dry mouth, irritability and the rare risk of seizures.
Because the benefits of quitting smoking often outweigh the side effects associated with smoking cessation drugs, many health care providers will recommend that smokers try to tolerate these minor irritations.
While most medications used to help people quit smoking have not been shown to significantly affect back pain, every body functions differently. If you have a back condition, such as degenerative discs disease, a prolapsed disc or failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS), consult your physician immediately if using a smoking cessation medication causes an increase in your pain level.
Talk to your physician to learn if quitting smoking using a medication could help relieve your back pain. If conservative treatments do not help, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how our revolutionary outpatient procedures can help you rediscover your life without back or neck pain.