Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Smoking Is Bad For Your Back?

Last fall I started waking up in the morning with lower back pain. At first It thought it was either the way I was sleeping or maybe our mattress. In November I went to the annual Health fair at work and there happened to be a chiropractor there giving free assessments. So I figured I would talk to him about my morning back pain and let him assess my back. I have been seeing him ever since and although I do have occasional pain in the morning, it is not nearly as bad as it was. Each week I see the chiropractor I get a "Topic of the Week" article that talks about different aspects of health and chiropractics. This weeks article is titled "Smoking's Connection to Back Pain." How fitting for someone who is trying to quit smoking! I want to share some highlights of the article with you. But first, I must give credit where credit is due. The article is courtesy of Brican Systems Corporation. The writer and editor of the article is David Coyne. The writer is Dr. Christiane Guenette, DC. Now that that is out of the way, lets get on with the article...

Tobacco smoke contains 4,000 chemicals. Fifty of those chemicals are linked to cancer. Ingredients like nicotine and carbon monoxide constrict the arteries and interfere with blood circulation. This results in oxygen and other nutrients not being properly circulated. The nerves in the spine weaken and wither. Without sufficient oxygen and nutrients, your spine is unable to repair and heal itself.

A long term study from Johns Hopkins University showed a definite link between smoking and developing lumbar spondylosis (a term doctors use to refer to spine degeneration, neck and back pain). Researchers studied 1300 physicians over several decades. They discovered that physicians who had a history of smoking, along with higher cholesterol levels, were more likely to suffer from lumbar spondylosis.

Smoking is also a key component in atherosclerosis - a dangerous condition in which plaque builds up in your arteries. When it hardens, the plaque reduces the amount of space available for your blood to circulate. This can lead to heart attack or stroke. As it relates to low back pain, atherosclerosis disrupts proper blood flow in the abdominal arteries that feed the spine. The spinal discs can become brittle and painful.

As well as lack of nutrients, there's another cause of smoking related back pain: smokers frequently cough. This reaction stresses the back's lumbar discs and over time this can cause pain.

There is also indirect reasons why smokers suffer from back pain. The are often less physically active. And if they sustain a back injury, smokers more sedentary ways often slow recovery. Inadequate exercise can lead to back pain.

Surprisingly, the damage to the spine from smoking is not limited to adults. A Canadian study showed adolescent smokers are more likely to complain of back soreness. The study also revealed "a history of low back pain is predictive of future problems. As such, prevention of disability from back pain in adulthood."

The article then concludes with Tips for quitting smoking. Since I have covered tips to quit smoking in previous posts, I will not repeat myself. I thought it was a good article. Who would have thought that smoking may be responsible for my back pain?

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