Is Smoking Causing Lower Back Pain?

Is Smoking Causing Lower Back Pain?

While there have been multiple studies on the effects that smoking and tobacco have on the body, most people are not aware of the strain smoking causes on the lower back. Atherosclerosis is a condition caused by the constriction and hardening of the arteries which results in a decrease in blood circulation. Atherosclerosis is one of the leading causes of heart attacks and strokes, and is commonly believed to be caused mainly by high blood pressure and cholesterol; however tobacco smoking is known to increase chances of atherosclerosis by 200 percent for chronic cigarette smokers. So exactly how does this condition affect your lower back pain? I’m glad you asked.


Atherosclerosis affects the spine by:

1)      Plaque Buildup in the Lumbar Arteries: the buildup caused by atherosclerosis tends to centralize itself in smaller, branch arteries, typically those leading to the spine and lumbar regions.


2)      Limiting the Blood Supply to Invertebrate Discs: The invertebrate discs comprise the largest avascular region in the body, and atherosclerosis limits the amount of blood and oxygen that is carried through the spinal arteries, causing the degeneration of these discs.


3)      Atherosclerosis Adds Unnecessary Nerve Fibers to Your Spine:  Invertebrate discs are avascular because after early childhood, these discs no longer need blood vessels. Due to the restriction atherosclerosis causes to the spinal region, the body tries to make up for the lacking blood supply by forming new blood vessels in between the discs. These blood vessels contain new unfamiliar nerve fibers that are embedded deep into the invertebrate discs, often making it difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of lower back pain.


Young smokers are more likely to experience lower back pain as a result of smoking than their older counterparts as they are also more likely to engage in other behaviors that lead to atherosclerosis such as heavy drinking and junk-food consumption. Also, smoking can have damaging effects on the spine’s ability to heal itself after injury, which can lead to more severe, degenerative spinal disorders. Luckily, atherosclerosis is preventable and treatable. If you are a smoker, seek advice on healthy ways to quit your addiction, and limit the amount of unhealthy and fattening calories that you intake daily. Treating your body holistically instead of focusing in one area such as weight-loss, or chronic pain, will increase the overall well-being of your spine and back.