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  • September 18, 2021

3 Dangerous Ways Smoking Is Contributing to Your Back Pain

Over the years, the correlation between smoking and spine deterioration has become increasingly evident. According to research, nicotine damages delicate spinal structures, resulting in the development of a wide range of painful spine conditions.

If a patient continues to smoke following the development of a spine disorder, they increase the risk of faster degeneration and hinder the healing process.

Here are three dangerous ways smoking affects spine health:

1. It Decreases Bone Density

Smoking makes it more difficult for the body to absorb calcium effectively, resulting in decreased bone density and weaker bones. This, in turn, increases the risk of osteoporosis. As one of the most common types of osteoporotic fractures, spinal fractures can also result in paralysis.

a spine specialist examining vertebral discs
Smoking decreases bone density which can weaken the spine and cause pain.

According to research, early smokers have significantly lower areal bone mineral density (aBMD) at the spine. By killing osteoblasts (bone-making cells), nicotine and free radicals cause long-term damage and exacerbate bone loss.

2. It Weakens the Vertebral Discs

As one of the most complex and debilitating spine conditions, degenerative disc disease can take a toll on an individual’s mobility and overall well-being. Smoking weakens the vertebral discs so they are no longer able to act as cushions between the vertebrae. As the vertebral discs lose their strength, they become soft and cause immense back pain. Plus, the condition continues to worsen with time as the pressure on the vertebral disc increases.

3. It Prevents Adequate Healing

According to numerous studies, smokers take longer to heal from surgery than non-smokers. In addition, they’re at greater risk of facing complications during or following surgery.

By preventing essential nutrients from reaching the intervertebral discs, smoking slows down the natural healing process and exacerbates premature disc degeneration. The toxic internal activity triggered by nicotine also impairs blood flow, resulting in further weakening of the delicate structures of the spinal column.

If a smoker experiences a mild spine injury, they’re at greater risk of requiring surgery due to rapid deterioration. Studies also indicate that not smoking can significantly improve the outcome of spine surgery like spinal fusion.

If you smoke and you’ve noticed an increase in back pain, particularly lower back pain, stop your habit immediately. If the pain persists, find an orthopedic spine specialist through TOPS Surgical Specialty Hospital in Houston. They perform back surgery for a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, sciatica, and other spine conditions. Visit their website to find a specialist who can help and to make your appointment directly with their office.

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