You know that smoking is bad for you. You know it can cause lung disease, lung cancer and emphysema. It increases your risk of a heart attack and stroke. It ages you, and shortens your expected lifespan. But did you know it can also contribute to back pain?

Back pain is something most people experience at one point or another in their lifetime. But, back pain can become severe and start interfering with everyday life. One cause of more severe back pain is a herniated disc, also known as a slipped disc or bulging disc. A herniated disc occurs when the jelly-like center of the disc is pushed out. The vertebrae in your back are cushioned by spongy discs. Discs have a jelly-like center and they act as shock absorbers for the spine. But a disc can become damaged, and then it can break open, crack or bulge.

Nicotine and other toxins from smoking can keep discs from absorbing the nutrients they need from your blood. In addition, smoking contributes to atherosclerosis. This is when plaque builds up inside blood vessels, causing decreased blood supply, especially to areas that are fed by small blood vessels. The bones and discs of the spine are fed by these small blood vessels and negatively impacted by atherosclerosis. This leads to degeneration in the spine and can later cause disc injury.

Smoking also increases your sensitivity to pain. This makes for a bad combination when it comes to back injury. Herniated discs usually occur due to aging or normal wear and tear, but smoking increases the risk of a herniated disc. Other risk factors for back pain include being overweight or leading a sedentary lifestyle. It is healthier overall to partake in low-impact exercise and quit smoking.

Quitting smoking is easier said than done. For tips on how to quit and even more reasons why to quit, please visit

If you are suffering from back pain, contact us or call our dedicated Medical Concierge at 800-890-1964 to set up an appointment or learn more.