Does cigarette smoking cause disc problems?

Smoking has long been know to cause many harmful effects, mainly on the lungs and heart, apart from increased risk of various cancers. A less known fact is that smoking can also lead to faster degeneration (wear and tear) of the discs of the spine and increase the risk of disc prolapse and related problems; as an independent risk factor.

The intervertebral disc is a structure without blood supply. It depends on the seepage of oxygen and nutrients from the adjacent bone of the vertebral bodies. The waste material generated by the cells in the disc also need to seep out of the disc through the disc-bone interface. The small blood vessels in the bone adjacent to the disc are affected by smoking. They become narrow and get blocked eventually and that reduces the ability of delivering nutrients and oxygen to the cells inside the disc. This also leads to accumulation of waste products in the matrix around the cells in the disc leading to cell death. This triggers off the enzymes which accelerate the degeneration (wear and tear) of the disc.

Although the disc wear and tear changes occur naturally with ageing, there is a strong evidence that smoking accelerates the process of degeneration of the discs, usually  at multiple levels. The degenerative changes are not reversible but stopping to smoke does reduce the incidence of back pain and related problems as compared to those who continue to smoke.

So, avoiding or stopping to smoke can save your back, apart from other benefits !.

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Dr Phani Kiran S

Experience and Professionalism

With years of experience in spine surgery, Dr Phani Kiran SSenior Consultant Spine Surgeon will assess you and suggest the treatment option that is right for you.

We at Medspine clinics, understand the importance of educating all our patients about the spinal problems and the most effective ways to take care of their spine.

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