Smoking can cause failed back surgery

One of the primary causes of a failed back surgery is something many people wouldn’t consider as a risk to recovery — smoking.

Research shows that smokers are twice as likely to have failed spine surgeries. This is because the chemicals in smoking and nicotine products have negative effects on bone growth, circulation and tissue regeneration, all of which are key components to spine recovery.

If you are considering any type of spine procedure, whether an open spine surgery or minimally invasive spine surgery, it is highly recommended that you stop smoking as long as possible before the procedure and refrain from smoking throughout the recovery process.

How smoking can contribute to failed back surgery

A common type of spine surgery is a spinal fusion. This procedure requires a bone graft to be implanted between two vertebrae in order to facilitate new bone growth to stabilize the spine.

In order to successfully grow new bone, the graft must get oxygen and nutrients from the blood. Smoking reduces circulation, therefore limiting the bone graft’s ability to produce new bone and form a successful fusion.

Studies also show that smoking may be detrimental to the health of the spinal discs, as well, which means that the discs in other parts of the spine may be unable to absorb impact to the body and may cause further instability within the spine.

In addition to smoking, other causes of failed back surgery syndrome include:

  • Unhealthy body weight — Obese individuals are more likely to experience failed fusions due to the pressure on the spine.
  • Bone disorders — Conditions like osteoporosis or osteopenia may prevent vertebrae from fully fusing.
  • Past surgeries — Patients who have undergone past spine surgeries or have multilevel fusions may have a higher risk of failed back surgery than first-time surgical patients.

Other ways to reduce your risk of failed back surgery syndrome

Patients who choose minimally invasive spine surgery over traditional open back surgery have a lower risk of developing complications such as failed back surgery syndrome. This is because minimally invasive spine surgery uses a smaller incision and avoids unnecessarily disrupting the muscles and soft tissue around the spine, allowing patients to recovery faster^ and avoid excessive scar tissue and other risks of traditional open spine surgery.

Contact Laser Spine Institute today for more information about the benefits of our minimally invasive spine surgery. We can provide a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive procedures.