Butt Out! 4 Ways Smoking is Damaging Your Spine

Man holding aching back.
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There's a constant ache in your back and you have no idea what's causing it. You eat healthy, you occasionally go for walks, and you take care to bend at your hips and lift with your legs. But if your day is riddled with smoking breaks or if you are regularly subjected to second-hand smoke, the cause of your back pain might not be such a mystery.

Its common knowledge that smoking is bad for your overall health; it increases your heart rate and blood pressure, increases the tension in your muscles and releases carbon monoxide into your blood and that's after just one puff. If you have back pain or if you are considering surgery, it is important to keep your spine healthy by eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water and staying active. But when smoking is added into this equation, you are increasing your risk of further spine problems and preventing your body from healing.

Here are 4 major ways smoking is damaging your spine:

1. Bone density can decrease when you smoke, which increases your risk of developing osteoporosis, a condition that weakens your bones and makes them more likely to fracture. This can cause significant back and neck pain along with weakness, pain and cramping in your legs.

2. Smoking impairs your blood flow and deprives your spinal tissues of nutrients and oxygen they need to stay strong and healthy.

3. Your physical activity decreases due to deoxygenated blood and damage to the lungs. When these main components of your cardiovascular system begin to weaken, something as simple as walking up a flight of stairs can become difficult and painful. And since staying active is vital for your spine health, any activity that reduces your mobility is going to have a negative impact on your spine.

4. Smoking can keep you from healing. Studies show that smokers take a significantly longer time to heal after surgery than non-smokers, and in some cases, their bones never fully heal. Smokers also have a greater risk of developing blood clots and infections during recovery.

Understanding that there is no such thing as a full spine replacement procedure, it's important to take care of the spine you have. Moreover, if you are planning to have surgery of any kind, your doctor will tell you to quit smoking long before your procedure to avoid any side effects that could prevent you from healing. Realizing this, why not make the choice today to reclaim your health and help keep your spine strong for years to come by breaking the smoking habit?

If you are experiencing back pain, call Dr. Chetan Patel at the Spine Health Institute. He can help you develop healthy habits for your spine and get you back on your feet in no time.


Effects of Smoking on Your Health. (n.d.). Retrieved from BeTobaccoFree.gov: http://betobaccofree.hhs.gov/health-effects/smoking-health/#bones

Smoking and Bone Healing - A Risky Surgical Combination. (n.d.). Retrieved from Foot Health Facts: http://www.foothealthfacts.org/Content.aspx?id=4820

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