The Risks of Smoking and the Spine

The Risks of Smoking and the Spine
It is well known that nicotine has negative effects on the body. In particular, smoking has a wide range
of harmful effects on the spine, especially during the healing phases of spine surgery. Smoking decreases bone
density and increases your risk for osteoporosis, joint disease, spinal arthritis and other more degenerative
conditions associated with the spine.
Nicotine decreases blood flow to tissues such as intervertebral discs and muscles which limits the
nutrients needed to heal properly and to fight degeneration. Since nicotine causes decreased blood flow to
tissues, surgical wounds will be at risk for slow or ineffective healing and even infection. Smoking also
increases your risk for blood clots.
The negative effects of smoking also pose major risks for heart, lung and digestive complications which
can make surgery very risky. In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General says your chance of having a heart attack
decreases within 24 hours of quitting, and your lung capacity increases up to 30 percent between two weeks and
three months from the time you quit.
Various studies have looked at the spinal fusion rates of non-smokers vs. smokers, and it is well known
that non-smokers have higher fusion rates and success for surgery as opposed to smokers.
Tips to Quit Smoking
Get Support
Follow up with your medical doctor.
Call 1-800-TRY-TO-QUIT
Call 1-800-Try-To-Stop (!-800-879-8678)
Find a support group, family or friends
Remove Smoke from your Environment
Get rid of cigarettes and ashtrays
Avoid places where people smoke
Reduce Boredom & Stress
Use Available Products or Medications
Nicotine patch or gum
Prescription medications
Herbal products
Distract yourself
Talk to a friend
Reading a book