Effects of smoking cessation on pain in older adults

Yu Shi, W. Michael Hooten, David O. Warner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Introduction: Smokers are at increased risk of developing chronic pain and suffering higher pain intensity. However, nicotine has analgesic properties, and smokers may view smoking as a means to cope with pain. Smoking cessation is clearly beneficial to the long-term health of smokers. However, it is not known how abstinence from smoking affects pain. The aim of this study was to determine the association between smoking cessation and changes in pain symptoms by secondary analysis of a large longitudinal dataset of older adults. Methods: Secondary analyses were performed of longitudinal biennial survey data (1992 through 2006) from the nationally representative Health and Retirement Study of United States adults older than 50 years. Multivariate logistic regressions were utilized to determine the relationship between the changes in smoking status and changes in pain symptoms, controlling for demographics, depression, self-rated health, history of arthritis, and body mass index. Results: In multivariate analyses, among the 4,695 smokers who reported no pain or mild pain at enrollment, smoking status was not independently associated with exacerbation of pain (odds ratio [OR]: 0.95, 95% CI: 0.84, 1.08). Among the 1,118 smokers who reported moderate to severe pain at enrollment, smoking status was not independently associated with improvement of pain (OR: 0.87, 95% CI: 0.70, 1.08). Conclusions: Smoking cessation was not independently associated with changes in pain symptoms in older adults. These results suggest that concerns regarding the effects of abstinence from smoking on pain should not pose a barrier to offering tobacco use interventions to smokers with chronic pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)919-925
Number of pages7
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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