Quitting Smoking: A Must for People with Back Pain Video

Video presented by Peter F. Ullrich, Jr., MD

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Video Transcript

If you are considering having a fusion surgery, the surgeon will probably ask you to quit smoking. The reason this is so necessary is because nicotine kills. There are two cell types, one that grows bone and one that eats bone and the nicotine kills the one that grows bone. So, all that leaves is the one that is eating the cells. That really greatly decreases the chances someone’s going to get a solid fusion. Any type of fusion surgery a patient may undergo is a major surgery so they need to have the best biological situation that’s going to lead to a successful surgery. There would be no point in going through an elective surgery if they wouldn’t have the best chance at pain relief. And even if the patient is not considering having the fusion surgery, it is good for them to quit smoking. Smoking is very well correlated with chronic pain; in fact smokers have a three hundred percent greater incidence of having chronic lower back pain. So just quitting smoking alone may help get rid of their pain whether or not they have surgery. This isn’t true just for smoking; it is actually the nicotine that is killing the bone, so the patient also can’t use nicotine substitutes such as gum or patches also can’t be using chewing tobacco, cigars, or any other form of nicotine.

There are fortunately some newer treatments for quitting smoking. The newest one now is a medication called Chantix, which actually binds to the receptor for nicotine in the brain and is very effective in helping the patients quit smoking. If you are having difficulty quitting smoking, work with your doctor. There are oftentimes other things that can help with this besides medications such as support groups, so you don’t have to go it alone. The really important thing is that you do quit smoking.