Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: October 17, 2016
Everybody knows that smoking has been linked to numerous health problems, so it should come as no surprise that smoking can also take a heavy toll on your spine. From bringing on the onset of pain to increasing the likelihood of a failed surgery, smoking can carry numerous consequences for your spine. Today we take a look at five ways smoking negatively affects your back.
Linked To Spine Conditions
Numerous studies have linked smoking to certain spinal conditions. Most notably, smoking has been linked to an increased likelihood of spinal disc degeneration or spinal osteoarthritis. Smoking weakens your cervical discs and bone density, leaving them to susceptible to problems.
Inhibits Healthy Blood Flow
Smoking can damage the blood vessels that supply healthy oxygenated blood to areas of your spine, leaving them susceptible to injury. This is one of the main reasons why surgeons recommend that you give up smoking prior to surgery, because your body is going to be in a weakened state after an operation, and it will only be further damaged if healthy blood can’t get to the surgical site.
Increases Surgical Risks
Smokers who undergo spinal surgery typically have a poorer prognosis, have higher rates of surgical complications like excessive bleeding or infection, and generally need more time to recover after an operation. If you want to give yourself the best chance to make a full recovery after surgery, give up smoking before you go under the knife.
This is kind of a combination of points two and three, but it deserves its own section. Studies show that smokers typically have longer healing rates after spine surgery, and that’s due in large part to the fact that healthy blood cannot get to the surgical site as easily as it can in people whose blood vessels haven’t been damaged by years of smoking. Your body’s natural response to a trauma like surgery is to increase blood flow and inflammation in the area, and smoking makes both these processes more difficult, delaying the healing process.
Surgery Is More Likely To Fail
Some spine surgeries are more likely to fail if the patient is a smoker. For example, smoking can inhibit bone growth, which is an important part of the success of a spinal fusion surgery. If the hardware doesn’t have healthy structures around it, the odds of a failed surgery increase exponentially.