According to the most recent statistics from American Lung Association and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), over 480,000 people die each year as a result of smoking-related diseases. According to the American Lung Association, cigarette smoking leads to 87% of lung cancers, emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Smoking is known to cause:
- Heart disease
- Lung cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Chronic lung disease
But there is one more thing: smoking is also bad for your bones!
Bones, like other tissues and organs of your body, get their nutrition from good blood flow. Normally, when a bone is injured (i.e. fractured), blood flow brings in the desperately needed nutrients to help heal the bone.
Smokers tend to have an elevated level of nicotine in their blood, which constricts blood vessels. This leads to decreased blood flow, resulting in impaired delivery of oxygen and other nutrients. Thus, when the bone of a smoker is injured, healing is compromised.
With impaired nutrition to the bones, bone density becomes affected and this can also lead to osteoporosis.
If you are a smoker and suffer from low back pain, you are not alone. The idea that smoking may be linked with low back pain has been around for quite some time. The key culprit here is nicotine, which limits blood flow throughout the body, including the spine. Chronic oxygen deprivation causes the discs to weaken. The result is malnourished and degenerated discs, which lead to pain. As a chronic smoker, the more you cough, the more you irritate the discs, which results in more low back pain.
If you are considering fusion surgery, your doctor will ask you if you smoke. This is important because nicotine damages the “bone-building cells”. In extreme cases, a surgeon may refuse to operate if the patient is a chronic smoker since smoking slows down healing after spinal surgery.
Chronic smoking can have a significant negative impact on your health and can lead to:
- Decreased healing after a bone fracture.
- Decreased bone density, which leads to osteoporosis.
- Increased risk of hip fracture.
- Decreased blood flow to the skin which leads to delayed wound healing.
- Decreased blood flow in the hands and feet which can lead to painful neuropathy.
If you suffer from any of these, the first thing to do is to look into a smoking cessation program. Here are some tips to help you quit smoking:
- Determine the ‘key drivers’ that motivate you to quit.
- Pick a stress-free time to quit.
- Join a support group; seek help from family and friends.
- Start doing some daily exercises to help relieve stress, improve bone strength and boost energy levels. This is exactly where your physical therapist can help.
If you or someone you know is a smoker, give us a chance to lead you to a healthier life. We help you with the right exercises that are best suited for you.