Smoking and the Spine
Cigarette smoking can impact every system in your body. The health of the spine and smoking are rarely discussed with patients who do smoke. Very few smokers know that the spine is one of the first areas where symptoms will show up from damage related to smoking. The reason this happens is the spine relies on very small blood vessels for nutrition and maintenance. Damage to smaller blood vessels from smoking will show up before damage to larger blood vessels. Typically symptoms include low back or neck pain. As the damage to the small blood vessels of the spine continues, there is a decrease in blood flow to the spine and the surrounding tissue. This makes it very hard for the spine to recover and heal. As the soft tissue in the spine wears out, it is replaced with bone. This is the process of arthritis. Smokers are much more susceptible to accelerated arthritis and injuries to their spine, on average, take twice as long to heal. Just ask any chiropractor. The best thing you can do is quit smoking. The damage to the entire body is just not worth it. I hope this helps our patients understand the damage being done from smoking from a chiropractic perspective.