Why Smoking is “Bad to the Bone!”

Why Smoking is “Bad to the Bone!”

Why Smoking is “Bad to the Bone!”

You probably know smoking has been proven to cause life-threatening health issues such as lung cancer, heart disease, COPD, asthma and low-birth weight in babies. But did you know, smoking can have a serious impact on your bones? It’s true! Increasing evidence has emerged over the years that shows tobacco exposure, both directly and passively through second-hand smoke, has been shown to have a detrimental effect on the musculoskeletal system.

So what does smoking do to the bones? According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, researchers have detected increased bone loss and lower bone mineral density in smokers compared to non-smokers and former smokers, and an increased risk of osteoporosis-related fractures including hip, leg, arm and spine fractures.

People who smoke face an increased risk for other musculoskeletal problems including increased chronic pain in the neck and lower back; increased rotator cuff tears and shoulder dysfunction with lower healing rates and poorer outcomes following rotator cuff repair. Smokers also have a higher risk of suffering from inflammatory, auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

But wait there’s more! Research has also found smoking can seriously impact bone healing after surgery and we concur! At Connecticut Orthopaedic Medicine, we urge patients to quit smoking before surgery because we believe patients who use tobacco have a harder time healing after total hip and knee replacement. In fact, the risk of wound healing problems and infections after surgery is more than double in smokers; with some tobacco users taking twice as long or longer to heal their fractures. In extreme cases, the broken bone may not have enough blood flow to heal at all! That’s what called a non-union and it can be very painful.

So what is a smoker to do? Start by quitting. According to the National Institutes of Health,  smoking cessation, even later in life, may help limit smoking-related bone loss. Click on the links for advice on how to “break the smoking habit” and read on for some extra tips to keep your bones as healthy as can be!

BeTobaccoFree.gov - http://betobaccofree.hhs.gov

Smokefree.gov - www.smokefree.gov

Quitting smoking aside, there are other steps you can take to increase your chances of having strong, healthy bones. Make sure to eat a well-balanced diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D and avoid excessive consumption of alcohol. Exercise to build bone strength and talk to your doctor about a bone-mineral-density test. This test is easy and painless and can detect osteoporosis before fractures occur;  as well as predict one’s chances of fracturing a bone or bones in the future. There is no cure for osteoporosis but there are medications available to prevent and treat the disease in post-menopausal women and men. Ask your physician for details or contact Connecticut Orthopaedic Medicine for more information. Here’s to the health of your bones!