Smoking and arthritis: Don’t burn out your joint health
Smoking can hurt more than just your lungs. HCA Florida Healthcare explains how smoking and arthritis are linked.
Today, it’s widely understood that smoking is a leading risk factor for lung cancer, heart disease and stroke. Yet, what may come as a surprise, is the impact it can also have on your bones, joints and connective tissues.
How does smoking affect your joints?
In general, smoking leads to inflammation throughout your body, putting you at higher risk for:
- Osteoarthritis (OA): A type of arthritis that leads to a breakdown in the tissues of joints, including cartilage. In one study, smokers were shown to be more likely to have greater breakdown of cartilage compared to nonsmokers.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): An autoimmune disease caused by your body’s immune system attacking your joints. Smokers are more likely to have increased joint damage compared to nonsmokers.
Smoking can also make it challenging for physicians to treat other health conditions. For example, it can:
- Lead to surgical complications: Smokers are more likely to require additional surgeries following joint replacement procedures compared to nonsmokers.
- Lessen the effectiveness of medications: Smokers with psoriatic arthritis don’t respond to medications as well as nonsmokers do.
What about vaping?
Even as cigarette smoking has declined, vaping has exploded in popularity, especially among younger people. Unfortunately, many of the health pitfalls of cigarette smoking also apply to vaping, including joint problems.
While researchers are only scratching the surface of the impacts of vaping with e-cigarettes, early evidence suggests a similar connection to inflammatory arthritis. In fact, the risk for those who smoke and vape (including cigarette smokers who are using vaping to try to quit smoking) seems to be even higher.
What are the benefits of quitting smoking?
There’s no better time to kick the habit than now: November is National Smoking Cessation Month and Lung Cancer Awareness Month. And even if you’ve been smoking for decades, it’s never too late.
Quitting smoking has numerous health benefits, including:
- Decreasing coughing and shortness of breath
- Improving circulation and lung function
- Lowering blood pressure and heart rate
- Reducing risk of heart attack, stroke and many cancers
- Returning sense of taste and smell to normal
With these and other benefits, smoking cessation can add up to a decade to your life.
Don’t let your joint health go up in smoke
Stopping smoking can benefit so many parts of your health, but quitting is easier said than done. Fortunately, you’re not alone. From smoking cessation to caring for your joints, we’re here to help.
In addition to refraining from smoking, it’s important to schedule yearly preventive health screenings for both you and your loved ones.