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How Smoking Affects Bone Health - Another Reason to Quit Smoking

Jen Slack's picture
Back pain massage

Although it's been long known, the fact that smoking causes problems in our bones doesn't seem to get a lot of attention. Could your sore lower back be caused by smoking?


As if you thought you might need yet another reason to quit smoking, here you go.
Bone density in smokers has been found at 5 to 10 percent less in smokers than in non smokers.

Spinal problems are particularly difficult problems for people and typically can start as early as age 36. Degenerative disc issues cause pain in the lower back and statistics for this disease are higher in smokers.

Sufferers experience pain that narcotics don't help with, and are often unable to enjoy any of the usual physical activities surrounding daily life and sporting activities.

A spinal fusion, an operation used to fuse the discs together, might be necessary for those suffering from this issue.

Kenneth K. Hansraj, M.D., Chief of Spine Surgery of New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine is a premier spinal surgeon who performs surgery on those with problems such as these says that 100 percent of the people he has seen for failed spinal fusions.

What Causes A Failed Spinal Fusion and Why Choosing the Right Surgeon is So Important

Dr Hansraj Spinal fusions says there might be many reasons why a spinal fusion might fail, but believes that poor behavior on the part of patients is often to blame. He says "a hundred percent of these cases (of failed spinal fusions) involve patients who have long-term history of smoking. Though many have subsequently quit."

If you're looking to quit, read here about How to Quit Smoking Easily On Your Own With One Single Aid.

One particular recent case of successfully correcting a failed spinal fusion with stem cell surgery is Meghean, who was trying to cope with severe pain using Vicoden, vodka and muscle relaxers. She had also gained 150 pounds in weight.

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In February 2015, Dr. Ken Hansraj removed her old hardware and revised the fusion and augmented it with Meghean's own stem cells. She is now off all of the narcotics and vodka, is down 110 pounds, pregnant and very happy. See the Youtube video about her success here.

How Do Discs Become Degenerated?

There are a few reasons why discs can become degenerated. In any case, the end result is a great deal of pain. When pain occurs in the legs, it is called sciatica and when it occurs in the arms it is called radiculopathy.

Here is a brief explanation of some of the reasons why discs become degenerated.

Degenerative Disc Disease With wear and tear one can get an annular tear a tear of the annulus, which is the tough circular exterior of the intervertebral disc. With further wear and tear one can get multiple tears, which can lead to one can get inflamed multiple tears which cause a great deal of pain.

Annular Tear with Disc Herniation occurs when the disc leaks through the annular tears.

Herniated Discs is a conditon that occurs where there is a frank extrution, or pushing out, of the nucleus of the disc.

Neuroforaminal After much wear and tear, combined with time, blockages calcify and form neuroforaminal stenosis or a blockage of the nerve root.

Central Stenosis This condition also occurs after much wear and tear and time, and results in blockages which calcify and form central channel stenosis, or a blockage of the spinal cord. Besides pain, this can also affect the patient's walking and balance.

Common Reasons for the Surgical Decision to Have a Spinal Fusion

- Degenerated Disc
- When there was a previous spinal operation with current instability, deformity or advanced degeneration
- When there is too much motion or instability within the spine.
- With Spondylolysis or Spondylolisthesis, a defect or stress fracture of the spine.
- With Degenerative Scoliosis, or curvature of the spine
- With Junctional Spinal Stenosis