Your Smoking Habit and Poor Spine Health Have a Lot in Common

Smoking cigarettes is already known to cause many adverse health effects. Most of us immediately think of elevated blood pressure, heart disease, and lung cancer as negative side-effects of the chemicals and nicotine found in cigarettes. However, recent studies have shown that smoking can cause another set of issues – chronic back pain and spinal conditions.

In fact, being a smoker is one of the most common risk factors for developing damaging spinal conditions like osteoporosis and degenerative disc disease. While these effects are not as thoroughly discussed as other diseases, smoking regularly or being constantly surrounded by secondhand smoke can have serious consequences for your spine.

At Posture Works, our spinal experts encourage our San Francisco, CA and Denver, CO patients to stop smoking, both because it is a habit that affects total-body health and because of its link to poor spine health. If you are developing back pain and aren’t sure where it is coming from, your smoking habit may be a good place to start looking for answers.

Nicotine may cause degeneration

One of the most common causes of back pain due to smoking is from degenerative disc disease. This condition is characterized by the shrinking of the vertebral discs, leading to friction between the bones, tearing in the discs, and a higher risk of developing a herniated disc.

Degenerative disc disease occurs naturally with age and stress on the spine but may be hastened by smoking. This is because the nicotine in cigarettes decreases blood flow by damaging your blood vessels, affecting all parts of the body including the spine. The spinal discs rely on a consistent stream of oxygen and nutrients from blood to stay healthy and strong. With decreased blood flow, your discs may begin to shrink prematurely.

Smoking may lower bone density

Smoking may also lead to another common spine health problem: osteoporosis. Chemicals in cigarettes may lower bone density, making your spine brittle and more prone to fractures and preventing new bone growth.

An unhealthy spine may not hurt right away, but the more damage that is done to bone tissue, the higher the risk of developing a painful spinal problem like bone fractures or spinal stenosis.

Other spine health problems

Your spine may suffer in other ways due to your smoking habit, as well. It is well-known that smoking leads to problems with the lungs, which in turn can lead to infrequent physical activity. Regular movement and exercise are necessary to maintain strength in the bones, joints and muscles in and around your spine.

You may also not heal as easily as a non-smoker can. This problem may extend pain symptoms after bone fractures and is particularly harmful to patients undergoing surgery. If you have a surgery coming up, specifically one regarding your spine, you should quit smoking as soon as possible to minimize side-effects and increase your ability to heal.

Finally, if you already suffer from a painful chronic condition like fibromyalgia, smoking may exacerbate this pain. One of the first recommendations doctors and chiropractors will make to patients suffering from these conditions is to quit smoking, as this has been shown to be effective at reducing pain symptoms.

The chiropractors at Posture Works in San Francisco, CA and Denver, CO utilize Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP) to help patients with poor spine health reduce their symptoms and return to a more comfortable lifestyle. If you believe your smoking habit is interfering with your health, visit us today to see how we may be able to help you.

Chiropractic BioPhysics, or CBP, is one of the most scientific, researched, and results-oriented corrective care techniques. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health, eliminating nerve interference and addressing the source of pain, fatigue, and disease. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is gentle, painless, and non-invasive.