How smoking prevents successful recovery


You may think it’s the only joy you have left, especially when chronic neck and back pain keeps you from doing everything else that you love. You take another drag from your cigarette, and before you know it, the entire pack is gone.

The link between smoking and back pain doesn’t vanish into thin air — because while you may not feel it instantly, the effects of nicotine can hurt your spine in more ways than one:

Starving your spinal discs

Smoking hardens arteries and decreases blood supply to your spinal discs, making it difficult for the discs to absorb the nutrients they need. Cigarette toxins also contribute to faster disc degeneration, making it more likely to cause a bulging or herniated disc or prevent one from healing.

Constraining connective tissue

Nicotine inhibits the protein-building cells that generate collagen growth. That’s why smoking cigarettes makes it harder for tendons and ligaments to heal or stay healthy.

Minimizing muscle mass

Muscle strengthening is often key to injury recovery and prevention. Unfortunately, smoking weakens your muscles and lungs, making physical activity difficult, which can lead to lower muscle mass.

Nipping your nerves

It’s normal for your spine to weaken with age, but with harmful nicotine effects, it’s more likely to wear down faster. Weakened spinal anatomy puts you at greater risk for developing pinched nerves that may require surgery.

Risk of failed fusion surgery

There’s a big reason why smokers are at risk for osteoporosis. Nicotine inhibits bone health and growth, which can also prevent a bone graft from fusing properly after a stabilization surgery.

If these spine-related nicotine effects sound risky, think about the rest of your body. Smoking cigarettes can also lead to lung and oral cancer, heart disease, emphysema and other serious health conditions.

Smoking is bad news for your overall health, and for patients recovering from spine surgery or injury, it can be an even bigger gamble. If your neck or back pain hasn’t healed after multiple treatment attempts, contact Laser Spine Institute for your free MRI review.*


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