Smoking and Your Musculoskeletal Health

I had a patient ask a few weeks ago why she wasn’t recovering from an injury faster.  This patient is a heavy smoker.  I tactfully tried to tell her that her smoking was probably causing her delayed healing.  That prompted me to make this list.  I turned it into a handout and posted the list in the office.


When you think of smoking, it is easy to think about increased cancer risks and heart attacks. But how does smoking affect your musculoskeletal system? Here are the dirty dozen.
1.    Increases risk for disc herniation by 50%.
2.    Increases risk for degenerative disc disease.
3.    Increases sensitivity to pain.
4.    Impairs ligament healing.
5.    Impairs bone (fracture) healing.
6.    Decreases muscle mass.
7.    Decreases immunity.
8.    Predisposes to musculoskeletal injury.
9.    Leads to poor outcomes of orthopedic surgery.
10.  Risk factor for osteoporosis, bone loss, and fractures.
11.  Doubles the risk for rheumatoid arthritis.
12.  Increases cartilage loss.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *