Research continues to show that smoking is bad for your bone health, your muscles and your joints. It can affect how fast you heal from a fracture. It may also be the reason you have lower back pain or sciatica. These problems are more common in smokers, especially those who develop “smoker’s cough.”
If you’re a woman, smoking can affect how much bone mass you have. It can increase your risk for spinal compression fractures, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
A 2016 study linked smoking to cervical degenerative disc disease. Using nicotine can cause a disease of the small red blood vessels. As a result, the discs in the neck are not properly nourished and start to degenerate faster.
Additionally, doctors have known for decades that cigarette smoking is a risk factor for osteoporosis. Studies show a direct relationship between tobacco use and decreased bone density, according to the National Institute of Health.
Here are five strategies to manage osteoporosis and improve your bone health.
Quit smoking. If you smoke, the best thing you can do is quit. Even if you quit smoking at a later age, it can help limit your bone loss. Seek help to quit. Visit smokefree.gov for tips and advice.
Eat health foods. Make sure your diet includes foods rich in calcium and vitamin D. The Institute of Medicine recommends a daily calcium intake of 1,000 mg (milligrams) for men and women up to age 50. Women over age 50 and men over age 70 should increase their intake to 1,200 mg daily. To get enough vitamin D, eat egg yolks, saltwater fish, and liver. Many people, especially those who are older, may need vitamin D supplements to achieve the recommended intake of 600 to 800 IU (International Units) each day.
Exercise for your bone health: Try weight-bearing exercises to make your bones stronger. Regular exercise, such as bicycling and walking, can also help prevent bone loss.
Limit alcohol: Chronic alcohol use has been linked to an increase in fractures of the hip, spine, and wrist. Drinking too much alcohol interferes with the balance of calcium in the body, according to the NIH. It also affects the production of hormones, which have a protective effect on bone, and of vitamins, which we need to absorb calcium.
Get a bone density test: A bone mineral density test measures bone density at various sites of the body. This painless exam can detect osteoporosis before a fracture occurs. It can also predict your chances of sustaining a fracture in the future.
Take medication if recommended: Although there is no cure for osteoporosis, you can medication to prevent and treat the disease. Ask your orthopaedic specialist if you should take medication.
+ Learn about The Spine Center of Hampton Roads which helps patients of all ages with back and neck pain. Our specialists use X-ray, MRI, CT, bone scan and other advanced diagnostic tools to evaluate each patient’s individual needs. Physical therapy is available at Bon Secours In Motion Physical Therapy locations throughout Hampton Roads.