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The Link Between Smoking and Lower Back Pain

By Debra Rodzinak

Degenerative lumbar spine problems, the problems associated with the lower back, have been linked to smoking in a study that looked at more than 1,300 physicians who graduated from Johns Hopkins University between the late 1940s and mid 1960s.  Some of these participants were studied for more than 50 years.

Almost everyone knows the detrimental effects of smoking:  Lung damage, heart attack, cancer.  What is surprising is that added to the long list of negative effects of smoking is now lower back pain.

Reasons for Lower Back Pain

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Atherosclerosis is a deadly disease that causes the blood vessels of the body to harden due to plaque buildup inside the arteries.  These same arteries carry oxygen-rich blood to the spine.  If they are impeded in their mission, the vital oxygen-rich blood cannot do the important job of keeping the spine healthy or helping the spine heal if injured.

During the study, researchers found that all of the risk factors for atherosclerosis such as smoking, hypertension, and coronary artery disease were “significantly associated with the development of low back pain.”

Smoking and Lower Back Pain

Smoking has been proven time and time again to lead to a narrowing of the arteries which has a direct effect on the development of lumbar spondylosis.  Lumbar spondylosis is the degeneration of the lower back. 

The study results also supported the theory that smoking was directly related to the “damage of the vascular structures of the discs and joints.”  Basically, this means that the discs that separate the vertebrae of the lower back are kept healthy with blood that is delivered from blood vessels.  When this blood flow is decreased or stopped, the discs and joints that keep the back in good working order are not able to do their job and back injury occurs.

Correcting Lower Back Pain

One important step toward decreasing the chance of developing lower back pain is to stop smoking.  With the many detrimental side effects of smoking, those who smoke are encouraged to stop immediately.

A second step is to receive regular chiropractic adjustments to help heal the damage already done to the blood vessels that lead to the lumbar region of the spine.  At The Joint, the expert doctors provide gentle spinal adjustments to patients who want to maintain a healthy spine.

With no pesky insurance forms to fill out or appointment times to remember, The Joint provides patients who want to protect their lower back in a drug-free way to take control of their chiropractic experience. 


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