Nicotine withdrawal and stress-induced changes in pain sensitivity: A cross-sectional investigation between abstinent smokers and nonsmokers

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21 Scopus citations

Abstract

Chronic smoking has been linked with alterations in endogenous pain regulation. These alterations may be pronounced when individuals quit smoking because nicotine withdrawal produces a variety of psychological and physiological symptoms. Smokers interested in quitting (n=98) and nonsmokers (n=37) completed a laboratory session including cold pressor test (CPT) and heat thermal pain. Smokers set a quit date and completed the session after 48h of abstinence. Participants completed the pain assessments once after rest and once after stress. Cardiovascular and nicotine withdrawal measures were collected. Smokers showed blunted cardiovascular responses to stress relative to nonsmokers. Only nonsmokers had greater pain tolerance to CPT after stress than after rest. Lower systolic blood pressure was related to lower pain tolerance. These findings suggest that smoking withdrawal is associated with blunted stress response and increased pain sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1015-1022
Number of pages8
JournalPsychophysiology
Volume51
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

Keywords

  • Cardiovascular
  • Nicotine dependence
  • Pain
  • Smoking
  • Stress-induced analgesia

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