Alex Simotas, MD

Hospital for Special Surgery
Board Certified Physiatrist
Specializing In Spine & Sports Medicine

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Smoking & Back Pain


If you have back pain and smoke and you want to have less back pain, stop smoking! Smoking has been identified in numerous studies, as an independent factor is the occurrence of low back pain. The exact mechanism of smoking and back pain is unclear. It may be related to all other harms of smoking including cardiac disease and heart function, lung disease, peripheral vascular disease and high blood pressure, compromise of muscle function and conditioning. Or it may be due to an independent process wherein smoking causes damage to tissues in the spine that hasten degenerative disease of the spine.

This much is clear: smoking is bad for your general health and bad for your spine.
First you need to ask yourself “Do you really want to quit?” Having back pain problems maybe one more reason to do so. You need to be aware that smoking will also have a detrimental effect on your spine.

Discuss your options for quitting with your physician. Consider counseling, supportive therapy, and other smoking treatment options. Hopefully smoking cessation will become part of an overall back treatment plan that overlaps with general wellness care.