Bone density measures the strength of a person’s bone. Due to the list above concerning osteoblasts, calcium, and blood flow (to name a few), people who smoke often experience less bone density than non-smokers. In addition, estrogen – a hormone which one of its many responsibilities includes building and maintaining the skeleton – breaks down more quickly in a smoker’s body and hinders its ability to support the musculoskeletal system. Lower bone density increases the risk of fracture and one’s odds of developing osteoporosis—a disease in which the bones become more porous and fragile, increasing the risk of fracture.
As previously mentioned, smoking increases the risk of developing osteoporosis. This risk is also magnified if one’s family has a history of osteoporosis, are naturally thin-framed, or live a sedentary lifestyle.
Increases the risk of tissue injury
A smoker’s restriction of blood flow throughout the body results in the tissue feeling the negative side effects of smoking. For example, rotator cuff tears are more severe in smokers when compared to non-smokers. Individuals who smoke are also at an increased risk of developing overuse injuries, such as tendonitis, and traumatic injuries, like fractures and sprains.
Increase risk of rheumatoid arthritis
The side effects on all tissues increase a smoker’s odds of developing rheumatoid arthritis and decreases the effectiveness of some drugs used to treat it. The exact reason why rheumatoid arthritis is linked to smoking is not quite understood, but to be fair many autoimmune diseases are complicated. Researchers tend to believe that smoking, “ignites faulty immune system functioning in people genetically predisposed to getting rheumatoid arthritis.” This also highlights the fact that people with faulty or compromised immune systems should refrain from smoking.
Since smokers experience a restricted blood flow, a slower healing period is also associated among those who smoke. Smokers experience slower healing and have higher complication rates. The blood flow restriction limits the among of oxygen that is delivered throughout the body and has negative effects on the healing of a damaged area. Compared to non-smokers, smokers have a higher level of pain after surgical treatment and experience an increase of generalized inflammation throughout the body.
While almost everyone experiences low-back pain at some point in their life, there is an association with low-back pain and smoking. It’s unknown whether smoking leads directly to the low-back pain or if the low-back pain is a result of people who smoke generally refraining from physical activity. What studies do suggest is that a lack of exercise leads to poor lumbar spine health; and smoking affects the blood supply and nutrition in the intervertebral disks.
Can it be reversed?
Though the effects of smoking is debilitating to one’s health, many of the affects from smoking are reversible. For example, patients who underwent a one-month preoperative intervention before joint replacement lowered their complication rate from 52 percent down to 18 percent. People who quit not only reduce the risk of serious health issues, but have less pain and tend to feel better overall. Quitting smoking can even help the body regain some of its healthy functions.