Dr. Arthritis Shares: Smoking Worsens Your Arthritis
Let’s get one thing clear—cigarettes are very bad for your health. But if you need one more reason to quit on top the risk of heart disease, cancer, and lung disease, then it’s worth pointing out that quitting smoking could also save your joints—especially if your suffer from arthritis.
Here are a few more reasons why you should consider throwing that pack out for good.
1. Smoking raises your death risk significantly
In a study conducted by Arthritis Care & Research, it was revealed that death rates for smokers who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) were almost double that of non smokers.
Being an arthritis sufferer already raises your exposure to cardiovascular diseases. And when you smoke, you’re essentially doubling that possibility.
2. Smoking leads to more complications during surgery
One of the most effective interventions for arthritis is surgery. However, research shows that smokers undergoing surgery were 10-times more likely to require a do-over procedure as opposed to non smokers.
3. Smoking causes worse cartilage damage
A Mayo clinic study found that osteoarthritic smokers actually experienced higher levels of pain due to worse cartilage damage. Studies are ongoing as to the real reason why, but scientists speculate that the toxins present in cigarette smoke is a critical factor of cartilage loss. Another theory is that smokers have higher carbon monoxide levels in their blood, which prevents effective cartilage repair.
4. Smoking worsens rheumatoid arthritis symptoms
According to a study published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, past and present smokers exhibit worse symptoms and joint damage versus RA sufferers who have never smoked a cigarette.
5. Smoking lowers response to medication
Another effective approach to managing arthritis symptoms is medication. However, one of the most common treatments—the TNF inhibitor, which is a type of biologic medication—saw lower rates of efficacy in smokers.
Because arthritis is largely a joint disease, most people assume that smoking doesn’t have a direct effect in their condition.. In addition, there could factors unique to arthritis sufferers that make it harder to quit—such as the idea that smoking can help us cope with stress, or distract from the pain caused by their condition.
The risks that smoking exposes you to however are not worth the perceived benefits that you think you gain. Remember, you’re exposing yourself to lung and other cancers, stroke, respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis with worsening arthritis symptoms. And quite simply, that doesn’t really seem like a fair exchange for a few puffs.