Associations between cigarette smoking and pain among veterans.
Individuals with chronic pain often report using cigarettes to cope, and smoking and chronic pain appear prevalent among US veterans. Pain may be a barrier to cigarette cessation and abstinence in this population. Because of physiological effects, smoking cigarettes may also interfere with pain management. A better understanding of how cigarette use relates to pain may assist in veteran cigarette cessation and pain management efforts. To assist these efforts, we searched the literature using keywords, such as "pain," "smoking," and "veteran," to identify 23 journal articles published from 1993 to 2013 that reported on studies examining pain and smoking variables among military or veteran populations. Studies found that veterans reported using cigarettes to cope with pain, there was greater occurrence of pain and disability among smokers in the military, and smoking increased the odds of veterans receiving an opioid prescription for pain and misusing opioids. Studies also found increased odds of pain and smoking among Veterans Health Administration patients with post-traumatic stress disorder when compared with those without post-traumatic stress disorder. Studies support an interaction between pain and smoking among veterans. However, the mechanisms underlying this relationship remain unclear. Future studies focused on this interaction would benefit veteran populations.
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