Smoking Increases Your Risk of Needing Spine Surgery Due to Back Pain

Category: Spine Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: January 15, 2018

Smoking Spine Surgery

Although the findings might not be new or revolutionary, a recent study out of Sweden found evidence suggesting that smoking increases a person’s risk of developing lower back pain that eventually needs to be fixed by surgery.

For their study, researchers took a closer look at lumbar spinal stenosis and its underlying causes. Lumbar spinal stenosis involves the narrowing of your spinal canal, and it often occurs as people age due to natural degeneration. However, researchers also believed that nicotine inhibits blood flow to the spine and promotes inflammation in the area, which can both speed up the narrowing process.

In their large study, researchers looked at 331,941 construction workers who were part of a nationwide occupation health registry in Sweden. Workers were tracked for an average of more than three decades. 1,623 workers eventually needed surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis.

Smoking and Spine Stenosis Surgery

After looking at the data, compared to workers who never smoked, heavy smokers (classified as smoking more than 15 cigarettes per day) were 46 percent more likely to need to undergo spine surgery for their pain. For moderate smokers who had between 1 and 14 cigarettes a day, there was a 31 percent increased risk. Ex smokers had a 13 percent increased risk.

“Smoking appears to be a risk factor for developing lower spine space narrowing that can lead to surgical treatment,” said senior study author Dr. Arkan Sayed-Noor. “Quitting smoking can reduce the risk.”

We’ve already known that smoking has been associated with worse spine surgery outcomes, but this evidence also suggests that smokers are more likely to need to go under the knife due to back pain. They said the findings were consistent even when accounting for natural aging and obesity. They hope to conduct similar studies in the future because they noted that exercise habits were not tracked, and regular exercise can go a long way in helping to prevent the onset of spinal stenosis.

Minnesota Spinal Stenosis Surgeon

If you’re a smoker, you’ve probably heard plenty of reasons why you should give up the habit, but now you can add an increased risk of spine surgery to the list. However, as the study states, it’s never too late to kick the habit and to reduce your likelihood of needing spine surgery (while also increasing your likelihood of having a successful operation). If you want to talk to a surgeon about your spine pain or how to best give up smoking, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi today.

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