Smoking and Back Surgery
Smoking is a major risk factor for patients developing failed back surgery syndrome, particularly in cases where bone grafts are used and spinal fusion is carried out. The rate of successful union diminishes rapidly with cigarette use before and after surgery as nicotine and other chemicals in the tobacco inhibit the formation of new bone. Circulation is also affected by smoking, meaning that oxygen and nutrients may not be delivered in sufficient quantities to supply an adequate recovery.
How Smoking Affects the Body
Smoking also decreases the body’s reserves of vitamin C which has a role in the formation of collagen, a structural protein involved in scar tissue formation. The cadmium in tobacco can inhibit the levels of zinc in the body which is essential for the formation of proteins and new tissue and also plays a role, along with vitamin C, in regulating the immune system. Inflammation and poor protein synthesis can encourage abnormal scarring and lead to epidural fibrosis where nerve roots are tethered by adhesions. Leg pain and back pain may then occur in such cases, making smoking extremely detrimental to a successful recovery. It may, for many patients, be worth delaying back surgery until they have quit smoking in order to effect a more prosperous outcome.
Next Read About: Spinal Fusion Failure