Daily smoking represents a 20% increased risk for MSCs; however, only evident among persons less than 50 years of age. Smoking cessation should accordingly be included in public health intervention programs for MSCs.
Chronic musculoskeletal complaints (MSCs) are among the major health problems, and cross-sectional studies suggest an association between smoking and MSCs. The causal relationship, however, is not known. The present study is designed to assess the association between smoking and chronic MSCs, and is based on data from a large longitudinal cohort study of all inhabitants ≥20 years in Nord-Trφndelag County (Helse Undersφkelsen i Nord-Trφndelag -HUNT), conducted in 1995-97 (HUNT 2) and 2006-08 (HUNT 3). The study population consisted of 15,134 subjects without chronic MSCs and valid exposure data on smoking at baseline (HUNT 2). The outcome was defined as presence of chronic MSCs at follow-up (HUNT 3). The results show that smoking at baseline represents a 20% increased risk (IRR = 1.20, 95% CI 1.14–1.27, P = 0.0001) for chronic MSCs at follow-up. The risk for chronic MSCs by daily smoking decreased with increasing age up to 50 years; after this, there was no significant association. The results show that modifiable risk factors like smoking should be included in public health intervention programs for MSCs.