We all know smoking is bad for your health, but did you know that it is bad for your shoulders too?
A history of smoking has been reported as a risk factor for rotator cuff (shoulder) tears. In fact, rotator cuff tears in smokers are nearly twice as large as those in non-smokers!
That’s not all. Smokers are also 1.5 times more likely to suffer from overuse injuries such as tendonitis and bursitis.
Why Does This Happen?
Your risk of shoulder injury increases due to the detrimental effects of smoking on joints.
Smoking decreases blood circulation, which makes your joints more fragile. According to researchers, it is 30% to 40% more likely for you than your non-smoking counterparts to break a hip or to get joint stiffness if you are a “mature” smoker, i.e. you are in your fifties and have smoked for more than 10 years.
In addition, smoking suppresses calcium absorption and affects bone mineralisation. When you smoke, your body system is incapable of absorbing calcium well. This poses a crucial concern as calcium is one of the most important building material for joints. Low amount of this vitamin will make your bones even more fragile and make you vulnerable to traumatic injuries such as fractures or sprains.
Cigarettes also make the whole situation much more worse when you are suffering from an injury. A study reported that tendon-healing and ligament-healing appear to be negatively affected by smoking. In a rat rotator cuff tear model, nicotine delayed tendon-to-bone healing significantly.
To add on, joint surgeries have been proven to be 56% more successful when the patient is a non-smoker. Smoking decreases blood supply to the healing tissues and thus, promotes poor wound healing and infection.
Is It Just the Shoulder?
While specialised studies support the correlation between smoking and shoulder injuries, smoking, in actual fact, can affect your total musculoskeletal system.
Previous research has proven that regardless the way an accident happens, any hit, crash or bump on a smoker can lead to an injury that is 80% more serious than a non-smoker!
Are the Effects Reversible?
Your total health may have been affected by smoking but good news is, many of these effects are partially reversible with long-term cessation.
By quitting smoking, you can reduce your risk for musculoskeletal conditions and help your body regain some of its normal functions. You will also load off a major burden of economic and emotional costs.
The choice is yours but don’t be late. Quit smoking today and reap the benefits of healthy living!
This post has been written by Goh Yun Jie.