All our providers at Direct Orthopedic Care recommend patients quit smoking to aid in the healing process. Most patients know about the more talked about effects of smoking such as heart disease and lung cancer, but few know about the significant effects smoking has on their bone health.
There has been significant research supporting superior and earlier healing frequencies in non-smokers. One study showed 95% of non-smokers healed completely where only 68% of smokers healed completely after arthroscopic shoulder surgery. Additionally, the healing time was 2 months longer in the smoking group. Some of the injuries and surgeries that were studied with these outcomes were rotator cuff repairs and tibia fractures. It is also important to note, even after someone quits smoking their outcomes are better than a current smoker but still not as good as someone who has never smoked.
Why does smoking reduce healing?
The primary reason smoking slows healing is because it reduces the blood flow. Nicotine constricts blood vessels by 25%. Blood carries nutrients, minerals, and oxygen throughout the body, because of the constriction caused by nicotine limited amounts of nutrients are delivered to injured areas leading to a slower healing time.
Here at Direct Orthopedic Care, we encourage all patients to quit smoking as soon as possible in order to help with the healing process. Whether a patient has a surgery or is trying to recover after a fracture, patients will have better outcomes if they do not smoke.
Preparing to quit?
Sometimes the hardest part about quitting is making the decision to quit. It is important to pick a quit date, then make sure you purchase any smoking aids you might need as well as disposing of all smoking paraphernalia. Another helpful tool is to make a journal with reasons you want to quit smoking and carry it with you for when you have an urge to smoke. If you have questions about resources to assist in quitting, talk to your primary care provider as soon as possible.