Did You Know Smoking Is Bad For Your Bones?

Here are some things you need to know:  Cigarette smoking is now considered the #1 source of preventable disease and illness (morbidity) and premature DEATH worldwide!! Did you know that recent statistics from American Lung Association and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) indicate that:

Smoking is the number one preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing over 1,200 people per day.  Meaning that over 440,000 people die each year as a result of smoking-related diseases. Cigarette smoke contains over 7000 chemicals, many which are known to cause CANCER. Smokers on average DIE significantly sooner than non-smokers: women 14.5 years sooner and men 13.2 years sooner. (If you have ever been interviewed for life insurance, this is ALWAYS a question they ask:  “are you a smoker”). According to the American Lung Association, cigarette smoking leads to 87% of lung cancers, emphysema and chronic bronchitis.  Lung cancer is a complicated disease affecting over 370,000 Americans each year.

Smoking is known to cause:
  • Heart disease
  • Lung cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Painful conditions
  • Smoking slows down healing

But there is also 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 or fractured, blood flow brings in the desperately needed nutrients to help heal the bone. Smokers have decreased blood flow which decreases the healing process which can contribute to many painful conditions such as: low back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain and many more are made worse and heal more slowly. If you have a painful condition, you must eliminate SMOKING.  By combining pain relief solutions with the cessation of smoking, better outcomes are typical.

People who smoke obviously have increased levels of nicotine in their blood, which constricts blood vessels. This leads to decreased blood flow, resulting in impaired delivery of oxygen and other nutrients. Healing is therefore compromised.

With the impaired nutrition to the bones, bone density becomes affected and this can also lead to osteoporosis.Read more about Osteoporosis here: Osteoporosis and Physical Therapy

Low Back Pain and Smoking


Pain & smoking:  if you are a smoker and suffer from low back pain, join the club. The concept that smoking is linked with low back pain has been around for quite some time. Nicotine limits blood flow throughout the entire body, including the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine. Oxygen deprivation causes the discs become weakened. The result is degenerated discs, which lead to pain. As a smoker, the more you cough, the more you irritate the discs, which results in more low back pain.

If your low back pain is severe enough for fusion surgery, your doctor will ask you if you smoke. Your physician asks you because nicotine damages the “bone building cells”. In extreme cases, a surgeon may refuse to operate if the patient is a chronic smoker, since this habit slows down healing after spinal surgery.

Quit NOW For Better Health

As mentioned above, smoking can have a significant negative impact on your health and can lead to:

  • Decreased bone density, which leads to osteoporosis.
  • Poor healing after a bone fracture
  • Increased risk of hip fracture.
  • Limited blood flow in the hands and feet, which can lead to painful neuropathy.
  • Lack of blood flow to the skin, which leads to delayed wound healing.

I always say: “when your problem becomes severe enough, you will do what it takes to fix the problem.” So…If you suffer from any of these, the first thing to do is to look into how to quit smoking. Here are some tips to help you quit smoking:

  • Determine the ‘key drivers’ that motivate you to quit.  Is it worsening pain? Family? Is it your overall worsening health?
  • Stress contributes to smoking. Choose a stress-free time to quit smoking (or as close to a stress free time as possible).
  • Get help from family and friends or join a support group.
  • See your Physical Therapist at Back In Motion Sarasota Physical Therapy to start daily exercises to help decrease stress, maximize bone strength and to get a boost on energy levels.
Reversing the damage you have done?

Research indicates that you will experience the benefits of quitting within 20 minutes!! Quitting smoking will improve your finances, your health, your self-esteem and your every day life in ways you never thought possible. Research also indicates that quitting prior to surgery and during the physical therapy process significantly reduces post-operative problems, improves success & overall outcomes.

Quit now!! If you are having difficulty recovering from or are scheduled to undergo a surgical procedure and you are currently smoking, you need to find a smoking cessation program. Telling someone to “quit smoking” is much easier than the actual process. When you quit smoking, you are doing the #1 thing in your control to improve the quality of your own life. Have a strong mentality. Live a longer, more enjoyable life.  The United States has more people who are addicted to nicotine than to any other drug. Research suggests that nicotine may be as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol

Back In Motion Sarasota Physical Therapy will help you with the right exercises to facilitate the healing process and decrease pain. We specialize in eliminating pain from your life. We can teach you how to perform gentle yet progressive activity which suits your current level of condition and pain. Do not delay, the longer you wait, the more serious your problem may become.

Is someone you know is a smoker?  Give us a chance to lead you to a healthier life. Call Back In Motion Sarasota Physical Therapy at (941)925-2700 and we’ll help you live a more enjoyable pain free life.

About the Author Tim Burnell, PT

Tim Burnell is the Lead Physical Therapist at Back In Motion Sarasota. He has over two decades of clinical experience. He takes pride in getting to the root of the problem which helps get his clients better...Faster! He is a family man & enjoys spending time with the love of his life, Monique. He has 2 children & a dog named Annie. Tim's son, Andre' is 11 years old and his daughter Joliebelle (nicknamed Pooky) is 7 years old. He enjoys visiting his wife's side of the family in New Orleans and his side of the family in Vermont. Tim grew up in Vermont, went to Physical Therapy School in Alabama, got his first job at Tulane Hospital in New Orleans and moved to Sarasota Florida after Hurricane Katrina in 2006.

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