Smoking and back pain: In most cases of back pain, there is no single cause, but it is caused by a combination of factors, such as a poorly performed effort, overweight, poor physical condition of the abdominal and lumbar muscles, degenerative pathology of the spine, genetic components, bad postures, stress and smoking.
How is smoking related to back pain?
Smoking constitutes one of the main public health problems in the world.
A recent study supported the hypothesis that low back pain is caused by blockages in blood vessels as a result of bad habits such as smoking, hypertension or a high cholesterol level.
Smokers never associate tobacco use with disabling lumbago pathology. Tobacco produces much stronger lumbar pain in those who smoke than in those who do not and that because the intervertebral discs that are part of the structure of the spine, in the vertebra-disc unit, are avascular structures, that means, they do not have blood vessels and like all tissues, those discs need oxygen and nutrients to survive and be functioning.
They receive this contribution of oxygen and nutrients through the plexuses and capillaries that are inside the vertebral platforms and these capillaries, as well as others – such as cerebral, joint or brain capillaries heart – suffer injuries caused by smoking, where the endothelium is injured and stops working.
Smokers are characterized by suffering early dehydration of those discs, which leads to discopathies and, subsequently, lower back pain to end with hernias of the nucleus pulposus.
It is not necessary for the person to smoke a pack daily for 20 years to just present these injuries. Moreover, many times, they manifest early.
About passive smoking
The lumbar pain, which can become disabling, do not occur exclusively in smokers. It has been observed cases where patients with passive smoking are affected since they live in a contaminated environment.
It seems that patients have more respect to live daily with disabling pain, in labour and personal terms, than to die from cancer or heart attack if they do not stop smoking.
Therefore, to prevent recurrent episodes of low back pain it is advisable to stop smoking, have adequate body weight, perform exercises to maintain good abdominal and lumbar muscles, avoid bad postures or prolonged positions, restrict excessive or repetitive efforts with the trunk and practice sports constantly.
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