Smoking causes worse outcomes in joint replacement

Most people know that smoking can cause significant damage to a person’s lungs and heart – but did you know that smoking can also damage a person’s joints? Because of this, smoking causes worse outcomes in joint replacement surgery. Patients who fail to quit smoking before joint replacement surgery are far more likely to need a revision down the road.

Smoking causes joint damage

Smoking is still the number one cause of preventable death. According to OrthoInfo, more than 440,000 people in the U.S. die from tobacco-related diseases each year. Some damage done from smoking cannot be repaired, but other negative effects on your body can be reversed – or at least reduced – simply by quitting smoking. One of those risks that can be reduced is incurring joint damage. Quitting smoking allows your joints to regain strength and reduces your risk of fractures.

What smoking does to your joint and bone health

Some of the consequences of smoking on your joints are as follows:

  • Increases your risk of developing osteoporosis, which weakens your bones and increases your risk of fractures
  • Nicotine slows the production of bone
  • Decreases absorption of calcium from your diet. Without calcium, your bones become brittle
  • Breaks down estrogen, which is necessary for maintaining a strong skeleton – both in men and women

Because of these damaging effects, smokers are nearly twice as likely to suffer tendon tears and overuse injuries. They are also more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis and low back pain as they age.

Smoking makes joint replacement recovery harder

If you are a smoker and think you need a joint replacement, our surgeons will recommend that you quit smoking before you have surgery. Studies have shown that joint replacement patients who continue to smoke before and after surgery are 10 times more likely to need a joint revision surgery than non-smokers. They are also more likely to have complications, including blood clots, irregular heartbeat, and kidney failure.

This is because smokers’ bones cannot heal well and cannot grow into the porous metal of the joint implant. According to Dr. Adolph Lombardi, president of Joint Implant Surgeons in New Albany, Ohio, “Smokers may be getting as much as 25 percent less blood to the wound than nonsmokers.”

What if I can’t quit?

We understand that quitting is hard. But we also know that quitting will make your quality of life so much greater. Many of our patients who continue to smoke end up with serious complications, fractures, or the need for additional surgeries because their bones are brittle. We want to make your recovery as pain-free as possible – for everyone involved.

If you have more questions about this, please call our office to speak with a clinician. 317-455-1064.

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