According to a new Northwestern Medicine study if you want to be able to avoid chronic back pain, which can be a debilitating condition, you should put out the cigarette. The study found that smokers are up to three times more likely than nonsmokers in developing chronic back pain. If you quit you might be able to avoid such a situation.

Smoking has be known to affect the brain and Bogdan Petre, lead author on the study, says “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.”

This study, which was published in the journal Human Brain Mapping, was one of the first to have evidence that linked smoking and chronic pain with the part of the brain that has been associated with addiction and reward.

The longitudinal study involved observing 160 adults with new cases of back pain. During a course of a year at five different times they were given MRI brain scans, asked to rate the level of intensity of their back pain and fill out questionnaires which highlighted on smoking habits and other health issues. From the group involved 35 were healthy control patients and 32 had chronic back pain and were monitored similarly.

MRI activity was analysed by scientist between two different areas of the brain, which involved addictive behavior and motivated learning. This type of circuitry played a crucial role in the development of chronic pain found the scientists. These regions of the brain communicate with each other and was discovered by the scientists that its strength of the connection can help determine who will be prone to become chronic pain victim. This is because of how the study showed that the part of the brain associated with motivated learning allows for the tobacco addiction to interfere with pain chronification.

“That circuit was very strong and active in the brain’s 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.”

Anti-inflammatories can help people manage the pain but the circuitry of the brains activity remains unchanged. Behavioral interventions, like quitting, could be used as a strategy that is effective in chronic pain prevention and relief.

Got back pain? And a smoker? Here are 5 Ways to Stop Smoking now.

Don’t even smoke but have back pain? Then maybe you should try Yoga To Beat It.