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Smoking and Spine Trouble

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Patrick M. Bolt, MD

Pretty woman breaking a cigarrette.Everyone in 2013 knows that smoking is “bad for you:” Lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, COPD, vascular disease, heart disease, stroke, and premature birth are linked to smoking. The public is largely unaware, however, that smoking is also associated with low back pain, intervertebral disc disease, and poor outcomes with spine surgery.

Good news then for smokers suffering from painful spinal disorders: a study out of the University of Rochester, published in the December, 2012 Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, reports that stopping smoking improved patient-reported pain scores following spine care. {5333 patients with spinal disorders were followed for an average of eight months. Compared with patients who continued to smoke, patients who quit smoking during care reported a significantly greater improvement in overall pain.} If you are a smoker struggling with a painful spinal disorder, talk to your doctor about quitting, it may very well help with your spine pain in addition to improving your overall health!


Smoking Cessation Related to Improved Patient-Reported Pain Scores Following Spinal Care. 


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