4 Reasons you should quit smoking – from a physiotherapy point of view

 In Exercise and Health

Quit Smoking

We are shown messages every day informing us that smoking is not good for the health of those who smoke cigarettes. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that approximately 50% of all persistent cigarette smokers are killed by their habit.  25% of these people died during their middle age years (35-69). On average, cigarette smokers die about 10 years younger than non-smokers.

Apart from lung disease, there are a few other reasons why your physiotherapist is keen for you to quit smoking.

1. Smoking may contribute to chronic back pain

It was found that daily smoking of cigarettes can increase the risk of low back pain amongst young adults. It was found that this was dose dependent, meaning the more cigarettes smoked per day, the higher the incidence of low back pain (Alkherayf & Agbi, 2009). It was also found that smoking from an adolescent age (16 years and older) or smoking 9 cigarettes per day, was associated with persistent low back pain (Mikkonen et al 2008).

2. Smoking may reduce your bone mineral density

Smoking cigarettes was associated with higher loss in bone mineral density in menopausal women, compared to those who did not smoke. Women who currently smoke, and those who previously smoked, also showed to have lower bone mineral density compared to those who did not (Kapetanović & Avdić, 2014).

3. Smoking can slow healing

Compared to non-smokers, current smokers have a significantly higher risk of superficial surgical site infection and overall wound complications following lumbar spine surgery (Martin et al, 2016). It was also found that current and former smokers have increased total complication risk following total hip or total knee replacement (Duchman et al 2015).

Current smokers  have twice the risk of experiencing a non-union after fracture, spinal fusion, osteotomy, arthrodesis or treatment of non-union and the healing time for these are longer compared to non-smokers.It was suggested that smokers should be encouraged to abstain from smoking to improve the outcome of these orthopaedic treatments (Pearson et al 2016)

4. Smoking may increase your risk of pelvic organ prolapse

In women who had not yet given birth, it was found that there was a higher prevalence in pelvic organ prolapse in those women who smoked, to those who did not (28% prevalence vs 12% in non-smokers.

Emily Georgopolous (APAM)
Masters of Physiotherapy

Featured in the Top 50 Physical Therapy Blog

Click here to book an appointment with Emily or view our Active Rehab Class timetable here.


Alkherayf, F., & Agbi, C. (2009). Cigarette smoking and chronic low back pain in the adult population. Clinical and Investigative Medicine. Medecine Clinique Et Experimentale, 32(5), E360-E367.

Amila Kapetanović, & Dijana Avdić. (2014). Influence of cigarette smoking on bone mineral density in postmenopausal women with estrogen deficiency in menstrual history. Journal of Health Sciences, 4(1)

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Australia’s Health 2006.Canberra: AIHW, 2006, cat no. AUS 73.

Duchman, K. R., Gao, Y. J., Pugely, A. T., Martin, C. O., Noiseux, N., & Callaghan, J. (2015). The Effect of Smoking on Short-Term Complications Following Total Hip and Knee Arthroplasty. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, 97(13), 1049-1058.

Mikkonen, P., Leino-Arjas, P., Remes, J., Zitting, P., Taimela, S., & Karppinen, J. (2008). Is Smoking a Risk Factor for Low Back Pain in Adolescents?: A Prospective Cohort Study. Spine, 33(5), 527-532.

Martin, C. T., Gao, Y. R., Duchman, K. J., & Pugely, A. (2016). The Impact of Current Smoking and Smoking Cessation on Short-Term Morbidity Risk After Lumbar Spine Surgery. SPINE, 41(7), 577-584.

Pearson, R., Clement, R., Edwards, K., & Scammell, B. (2016). Do smokers have greater risk of delayed and non-union after fracture, osteotomy and arthrodesis? A systematic review with meta-analysis. BMJ Open, 6(11), E010303.

Worcester, S 2005, ‘Smoking May Up Risk of Pelvic Organ Prolapse’, Ob. Gyn. News, vol. 40, no. 23, pp. 23-23.

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