The consequences of smoking are well documented. Increased risk of cancer, heart disease, arteriosclerosis, and higher risk of infection following surgery are just some of the risks associated with smoking. It can also be bad for your back, as Dr. Ai Mukai explains to SpineUniverse.
“Primarily, smoking has a bad impact on blood flow and circulation,” explains Ai Mukai MD. “This can damage muscles and tendons as well as the other spinal structures, such as the disc.” Dr. Mukai adds, “Smoking is also associated with higher risk of osteoporosis, or thin bones, and this can lead to increased risk of spine fractures.”
If you injure your back, smoking can also keep you from healing properly, “which means if you injure a disc, it will take smokers longer to heal—or it may not heal at all.”
Dr. Mukai says that smoking encourages increased inflammation, and that in and of itself can cause pain. Smoking can also keep medications that are prescribed to help pain from absorbing in the body correctly.
Besides influencing pain, inflammation and healing, smoking can also impact your mood and sleep quality.
“Smoking has a negative association with three factors—mood, sleep, and pain,” Dr. Mukai says. “It’s a negative, vicious cycle, since people who are depressed, have pain, or experience anxiety tend to smoke more to cope in an unhealthy way, which then leads to worse pain and health.” She adds that depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders have been found to have a negative impact on spine surgery outcomes.
There’s just nothing good that comes out of smoking,” Dr. Mukai asserts, adding that quitting smoking can help with pain in the long run. She believes that several therapies can help someone quit smoking, such as medications, cognitive behavioral therapy, and she’s also seen good results from hypnosis and acupuncture.
Read the entire SpineUniverse here.