If you’re a smoker, you probably already accept that smoking increases your risk of respiratory diseases and cancers, among other life-threatening health problems. But did you know that it can also affect your musculoskeletal health? In fact, your orthopedic surgeon might ask you to quit smoking before undergoing an ACL repair or other procedure. This is because smoking increases the risk of poor orthopedic outcomes.
The first way smoking affects musculoskeletal health is by increasing the risk of orthopedic injuries. Nicotine has a deleterious effect on the ability of the body to produce bone-forming cells. In other words, they are at a higher risk of osteoporosis, which means the risk of bone fractures is elevated. Smokers are also known to have a higher risk of rotator cuff tears and herniation of the intervertebral discs in the lumbar region.
Whether or not you will need orthopedic surgery to repair a problem, you can expect your healing to take much longer than the typical healing period for a non-smoker. This is largely due to the harmful effect of smoking on the circulatory system. Specifically, smoking inhibits healthy blood flow. Without sufficient blood flow to an injured region or surgical site, that area cannot receive sufficient oxygen and nutrients it needs to heal. Additionally, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, it may take more than twice as long for a smoker to heal from a fracture, even if no surgery is required. Without sufficient blood circulation, the bone may painfully fail to heal a complication known as a “non-union.”
Surgeons of all specialties prefer that their patients quit smoking before procedures and refrain from smoking during the recovery period. Smokers are known to have a higher risk of complications during surgeries, including adverse reactions to general anesthesia. After surgery, they are at a higher risk of developing infections.
Here at Able Orthopedic & Sports Medicine, it’s our mission to provide comprehensive support as our patients work toward recovery from sports injuries and other orthopedic problems. If you’ve been referred to an orthopedic specialist in Queens, you can give us a call at (347) 537-2404. We also offer emergency orthopedic services directly in the ER.