[REPRESENTATIONAL IMAGE] Women smokers are highly likely to develop from brain bleeds than the non-smokersPascal Maramis/Flickr

Lighting up a cigarette can give you chronic back pain, researchers warn.

In a new study reported in Human Brain Mapping, people who smoked had three times greater risk of developing chronic back pain than non-smokers.

Smoking causes some changes in the way brain responds to back pain, the authors explained.

"Smoking affects the brain," lead author of the study Bogdan Petre, a technical scientist at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said in a news release. "We found that it affects the way the brain responds to back pain and seems to make individuals less resilient to an episode of pain."

Petre and colleagues from the Northwestern University in US followed 227 people and noticed that smokers had an increased activity of two brain areas -- the regions involved in addictive behaviours and motivated behaviour.

Strength of the connection between the two brain areas -- nucleus accumbens and medial prefrontal cortex, NAc-mPFC -- can accurately tell which person will develop chronic back pain as the circuitry plays a huge role in the health condition, the authors, said. They noted that an increased activity in the circuit placed a person at greater risk of chronic back pain than others.

"That circuit was very strong and active in the brains of smokers," Petre said. "But we saw a dramatic drop in this circuit's activity in smokers who — of their own will — quit smoking during the study, so when they stopped smoking, their vulnerably to chronic pain also decreased."

The link between the two may be because smoking can cause tissue damage on the back, according to the experts at the NHS choices UK.

Smoking has become a matter of concern in India. A study released in January this year estimated that the number of people addicted to smoking has gone up significantly in 30 years, from 74.5 million to 110 million.

Some Other Factors that can increase Back Pain, as provided by The Arthritis Society and NHS Choices:

  • Bad posture
  • Depression
  • Prolonged use of bone weakening drugs, including corticosteroids
  • Excess body weight
  • Physical inactivity
  • Exposure to stress