Quitting smoking can help stenosis of the spine

Although most people are aware of the health risks associated with smoking, few people are familiar with the ways in which smoking can exacerbate pain from stenosis of the spine. Naturally, having a body that is in top physical form would be ideal for overcoming any health issue that might affect your neck and back. This includes issues that lead to spinal stenosis (narrowing) — conditions such as bulging intervertebral discs or facet joints that have developed bone spurs. But if you are a smoker, there are a bevy of other complications and risks that can worsen your neck and back pain.

Health risks of smoking

The addictive, carcinogenic aspects of cigarettes are well-known, but smoking has other harmful effects, too. For instance, the disruption of circulation, lung function, blood pressure and other bodily processes are equally as troublesome when it comes to one’s general health and spinal stenosis pain. Below are just a few ways that smoking can make neck and back discomfort even worse:

  • Smoking slows the healing process, which means that damaged portions of the spine that for a non-smoker might normally repair themselves can for a smoker remain injured and get worse.
  • Many smokers develop chronic coughs, which can cause neck and back pain to be more severe.
  • Smoking causes obstructions in the arteries, which means that proper circulation is not getting to the spine, making it nearly impossible for your back to heal itself.
  • The use of cigarettes limits the amount of nutrients that make their way to the spine, so the discs, joints and muscles of the back grow continually weaker.
  • Nicotine can exacerbate the brain’s interpretation of pain signals.

If you are a smoker who has been diagnosed with cervical stenosis, lumbar stenosis, thoracic stenosis or any type of stenosis of the spine, chances are your habit is causing your symptoms to become worse. While quitting smoking is an excellent idea for achieving overall health, it can be especially helpful in mitigating your neck and back pain.

Implications for surgery

If your spine pain becomes severe and you begin to consider surgery, your physician will require that you stop smoking before and after your surgery. For more information on minimally invasive procedures that are safer and effective alternatives to open spine surgery — and that have a shorter recovery time^ — contact Laser Spine Institute. Our team can let you know if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive, outpatient procedures.

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