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Smoking - Is it giving you back pain?


Chiropractic has never cured anyone of anything.


If we go looking for the named condition that Chiropractic can be applied to and produce change in we will find ourselves in a merry-go-round of symptoms, loosing sight of the whole because of an obsession with the parts. So the question of What can Chiropractic Cure should be changed to "How" can Chiropractic Assist? The answer is simple. A well functioning mind and body has a greater opportunity to heal, repair and function than a poorly functioning one. A well functioning mind and body depends to a significant degree on a well functioning spine and nerve system. This is Chiropractic's contribution.


People find that chiropractic's ability to produce better spine and nerve system function changes their life expression. There are thousands of symptoms and conditions that chiropractic has been associated with helping, however don't ask "Can Chiropractic Cure this or that condition" - instead ask "If my mind and body was functioning better through Chiropractic would I be better placed to handle this condition?"



A large proportion of the population smokes cigarettes and a large proportion of the population have suffered from low back pain at one stage of their lives. However, not many people will link them at being cause and effect. Low back pain can be caused by various factors from muscle strain to be more serious medical conditions. Having your history checked and an examination by a chiropractor enables you to rule out more serious causes of your back pain. The following will hopefully illustrate how smoking could indeed be a part, or the sole cause, of your back pain and how you could help yourself.

How smoking can affect you

Smoking has been linked with the conditions known as atherosclerosis and aortic calcification. Atherosclerosis is basically the "furring up" of arteries due to fatty deposits, while aortic calcification is when the main artery in the abdomen, the aorta, has calcium laid down where it has already "furred up". The process of atherosclerosis starts early on in life and there are various factors associated with an increased degree of this, such as age, sex, familial traits, increased cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, cigarette smoking, and lack of exercise, obesity, diet and stress.

Abdominal aortic atherosclerosis is believed to case back pain and disc degeneration through narrowing of the arteries that originate from the aorta that supply the vertebrae in the low back.

Nutrient supply

The in vertebral disc (IVD) is thought to be the initial structure to suffer from decreased blood- and therefore, nutrient -supply. The specific type of back pain caused by reduced blood flow is not fully known but it is stated that sudden blockage can cause acute scoliosis (curvature of the spine) and severe back pain. Prolonged back pain has been associated with more narrow or missing arteries in the low back, while slowly progressing arterial blockage tends to remain symphonies due to the formation of smaller blood vessels.

The use of X-rays

Aortic calcification, if present, can be seen on most x-rays of the low back, and can therefore be an indication of the state of the arteries. Chiropractors do sometimes use X-rays to see what could be causing back pain. When back pain is present, most commonly it is due to a muscle problem, the joints in the spine not moving as they should, trapped nerves, or a disc problem. However, it could also be because of smoking and therefore it is the duty of the medical practitioner to diagnose correctly.


Lower back pain can also be caused by osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is the decrease of the quantity of bone leading to an increase in bone fragility and increased fracture risk, mostly associated with post-menopausal females and the elderly. Smoking can be linked with osteoporosis, because smoking is believed to increase the bone density loss.

In the elderly and post-menopausal females who smoke, the bone loss seems to be attracted to the abdominal aorta and increases the aortic calcification as described above. Severe bone loss caused by osteoporosis can provoke weakness of the vertebrae, making compression fractures more at risk.

Not everyone will suffer from osteoporosis, but there are certain risk factors that may make this more likely. If you think you could be at risk, and then read the following checklist. The more you answer yes, the more susceptible you are to osteoporosis.

  • Having the female menopause before 45 years of age
  • Long term use of corticosteroids
  • Irregular or infrequent female menstrual cycle
  • Smoking or passive smoking
  • Heavy drinking, more than 14 units a week for women, or 21 units for men
  • Lack of sunshine
  • Family history
  • Immobility, lack of exercise
  • Low calcium intake
  • Metabolic disorders (e.g. thyroid over or under-activity, diabetes)
  • Slight build, fair skin, blonde/red hair
  • Excessive caffeine intake.

If you suspect that you may be suffering from, or could be at risk of osteoporosis, then speak to your general practitioner (GP) or chiropractor as soon as you can. There are many ways that osteoporosis can be helped, both before it starts and even id you already have it, in the form of nutrition, exercise and supplements. It is never too late! Likewise, if you are suffering from low back pain, don't put off going too see someone about it. Most cases of low back pain can be helped and the sooner it is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat.