Smoke signals: the link between smoking and back pain 

By now, most people know the dangers of cigarette smoking. It’s a habit that increases the risk of lung cancer and heart disease, but did you know that it’s also linked to back pain? The connection may seem odd at first, so let’s examine how and why cigarette smoking could be causing or worsening your discomfort. 

Chronic inflammation 

Tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals. Many of which are known to harm your body in various ways; including some which can affect your back. For example, smoking can worsen chronic inflammation, a prolonged bodily response which is linked to back problems.
Chronic inflammation can lead to the breakdown of proteins, essential for muscle strength and endurance, weakening muscles and contributing to pain and discomfort. People with low back pain often have elevated levels of inflammation, making smoking a risk factor for aggravating back issues. 

Bone weakness 

Recent evidence demonstrates that tobacco smoking causes lower bone mass, increasing the risk of osteoporosis and fracture.
This means even a cough or a minor fall can result in bone fractures, including those in your spine. However, the impact of weakened bones extends beyond fractures; osteoporosis can cause skeletal deformities, joint issues, and increased muscle tension. Severe back pain is a common symptom for people who have this condition.
Smoking cigarettes also slows down the healing of fractures. The more you smoke, and the longer you smoke, the worse these effects become, although more studies are needed to find out exactly why. Smoking also leads to more complications during medical treatments, making recovery and hospital stays longer. 

Blood circulation 

Smoking cigarettes reduces blood flow to your spine, depriving it of essential nutrients. As a consequence, the discs, the cushioning between your vertebrae, can harden and tear. Joint cartilage deteriorates, reducing shock absorption, and lubrication decreases. The overall result is accelerated wear on bones, discs, and joints, and inadequate healing. This combination can lead to degeneration, damage, dysfunction, and pain. 

Smoking not only causes physical changes that worsen back pain but also affects mental wellbeing. Stress, especially, increases the chances of long-term low back pain, and the more stressed you are, the higher the risk. Some people turn to smoking to find relaxation through the nicotine hit. However, once the calming effect fades, stresslike symptoms such as anger, anxiety, frustration, and irritability can emerge. This sets up a harmful cycle of stress, smoking, and pain. 

However the news is not all bad. Stopping smoking helps to halt, even reverse, the damage; allowing your back to heal. This big step will not only improve your overall health, but could also alleviate your back pain. As always, if you have any questions, please ask us.

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Smoke signals: the link between smoking and back pain 
Coastline Chiropractic Port Macquarie's Leading Chiropractors