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Smoking and Back Pain

Can smoking contribute to your back pain? Ultimately, the answer is yes. Jessica Knuppel, a physician assistant at Twin Cities Spine Center explains the link between smoking and back pain, and shares some tips for how to keep your spine healthy!

In general, nicotine in cigarettes causes vasoconstriction (narrowing of the vessels) which leads to decreased blood flow. This same process occurs in the spine.

When smoking, the vessels to the spine become narrowed and less nutrients and blood flow go to the spine and ultimately to the discs. This process causes degeneration of the discs in the spine. Disc degeneration can contribute to chronic back pain.

Ways to keep your spine healthy:

  • Smoking cessation—work with your primary care provider about ways to help you quit! There are lots of options for nicotine replacement or even medications to discuss with your primary doctor.
  • Keep an active lifestyle. Find some form of exercise that you enjoy! Core strengthening can be beneficial.
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Drink plenty of water.
  • Practice proper lifting body posture and mechanics.
  • Bend at the hips and knees rather than your spine.
  • If something is too heavy, recruit help!
  • If you do develop back pain, seek help!