Does Smoking Increase your Risk of Back Pain?

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: June 5, 2014

smokingOne of the more frequently asked questions I get in my practice (and one I see a lot online) is “can smoking regularly increase the risk of back pain?” This question has been popping up so much I have decided to dedicate this article to answering it.

Causes of Back Pain

There are many elements that can lead to back pain, many of which cannot be 100% avoided. Here are a few of the most common causes of back pain:

  • Growing Old. Here’s a cause you can’t do much about. Our bodies break down as we age, there’s no stopping that. Bones become brittle and structures deteriorate, leading to conditions such as herniated discs or pinched nerves (2 conditions that result in back pain).
  • Being in Poor Shape. Overweight people are at a greater risk of back pain simply because their spine has more weight to support. Similarly, those who do not exercise generally have weaker back muscles and are more prone to back pain.
  • Genes. Some back pain is hereditary and is passed down from generation to generation.
  • Smoking puts you at an increased risk for back pain for many reasons (that we will discuss below).

As you can see, some of these causes are unavoidable (old age and genetics). However, smoking is a choice, and choosing not to smoke may help you avoid a lot of back pain in your future.

How Smoking Causes Back Pain

Smoking makes it more difficult for certain nutrients to reach your spine. This can lead to abnormal degradation of spinal discs and vertebrae. Chronic smokers also often develop a smoker’s cough that can strain back muscles over time.

The health risks of smoking have been well documented, but if you need another reason to quit, here it is: smoking can cause back pain.

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