Back Pain and Cigarette Smoking

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Back pain is associated with a decrease in the quality of life.  It can change your outlook, your job and your relationships. There are all these articles and journals about the degenerative effects of smoking, the one thing that became very clear is that the arthritic changes that naturally occur in all of us, are increased in smokers.  According to the North American Spine Society, Nicotine restricts the flow of nutrients and oxygen rich blood to the discs that cushion the vertebrae, thereby, increasing degeneration of the spine and discs.  Nicotine impairs and changes the way oxygen is delivered to the tissues.  All tissue function has dependency on oxygen.  Smoking also reduces the calcium absorption and prevents new bone growth. This can increase the risk of an osteoporotic fracture, a very painful occurrence.  Nicotine retards fracture and wound healing by decreasing the amount of oxygen to the wound and thereby impairing the collagen production that is essential in all types of healing.

Research has shown that people who smoke have a higher prevalence of back pain.  Some studies show that nicotine is like a pain killer and decreases the amount of pain that is felt. The University of Rochester medical school cites that nicotine interacts with certain proteins that play a key role in your central and peripheral nervous system that control anxiety and pain.  Prolonged exposure to cigarettes changes the way these cells function and eventually the way the body processes pain.  It was found in a few studies that smokers with back pain tend to have more intense pain and more long term disability over time.

Not only does smoking effect every organ system in the body but the effect on the core structure, our spine, limits the amount of activity we are able to achieve in order to help our physical and mental structure for a healthier life.

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