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Health & Exercise Forum

Even More Reasons to Quit Smoking: Part 2 of 2

Nov 17, 2014

Dr. Mackarey's Health & Exercise ForumNeed Another Reason to Quit Smoking? Studies Show That Smokers Are More Likely to Suffer From Lower Back Pain and Failed Back Surgery!

Part 2 of 2

The American Cancer Society marks the third Thursday of November each year as The Great American Smokeout! The Smokeout, in combination with many other campaigns to raise the level of awareness about the dangers of smoking, is working as smoking has declined from 20.9% in 2005 to 18.1% in 2012. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 42.1 million adults in the United States smoke cigarettes.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the US and more than 16 million Americans suffer from a disease caused by smoking. It is well documented that smoking causes cancer, heart attacks, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), lung disease (bronchitis, emphysema, coughing, shortness of breath), and damage to the skin which leads to wrinkles and premature aging. Smoking also causes discoloration of teeth and fingers and causes bad breath. In recent years, several studies have discovered the strong relationship between smoking and back pain and failed back surgery. The fact that more than 80% of the population will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives makes these findings vitally important!

Smoking and Failed Back Surgery

The body was genetically engineered to heal. Given the proper opportunity for adequate rest, nutrition, oxygen, blood flow and protection from additional injury, the body, including the muscles, discs and joints of the spine, will typically heal. In view of this, the importance for smoking cessation cannot be overstated. Many back surgeons require a blood test for nicotine before they will perform surgery to limit the likelihood of failure. Moreover, as damaging as smoking is, the body is amazingly resilient. It is NEVER too late to quit smoking and allow your body to use oxygen and nutrients from clean air to restore, recover and heal.

Top 11 Tips to Quit Smoking (

  • One – Write a list of the reasons why you want to quit smoking. Keep the list with you (on your phone, in your wallet or purse), and refer to it when you’re tempted to smoke.
  • Two – Set a date to stop smoking. Keep true to the date and stop completely. Studies show that this is more successful than quitting gradually.
  • Three – Announce to everyone that you are quitting. Family and friends will be supportive. Get one or more friends to quit with you and you will benefit from the camaraderie.
  • Four – Remove ashtrays, lighters and cigarettes.
  • Five – Prepare for withdrawal symptoms. Expect nausea, headaches, anxiety, irritability, cravings and feeling generally ill.
  • Six – Expect a cough. It is not unusual to have an more coughing than normally. This will gradually decrease.
  • Seven - Prepare for situations that trigger a craving. Drinking alcohol, coffee, or tea as well as certain foods, can be a trigger. Talking on the phone or driving in a car can also be triggers.
  • Eight – Take one day at a time.
  • Nine – Visit a stop smoking clinic or website.
  • Ten – Use approved smoking cessation products. Nicotine replacement therapy products such as gums, sprays, patches, tablets, inhalers, etc. can increase your chance of quitting.
  • Eleven – Exercise. Some studies show that increase activity and exercise can serve to improve successful smoking cessation.



Some simple suggestions for beginning an exercise program are:

    • Get your physician's approval
    • Consult with a medical professional to set up a program for your individual needs




    • Buy good running sneakers – not walking shoes
    • Long term goal if possible - to exercise 3-5 times per week for 20-30 minutes
    • Walk, Treadmill, Exercise Bike
    • Begin 3-5 minutes and add 1-2 minutes each session
    • Walk in a mall if it is too hot or too cold


    • Use light dumbbells, sandbag weights (1-2 pounds), and resisted bands
    • Begin with 3-5 repetitions and add 1-2 reps each session
    • Alternate weight training days with walking days ** Medical Contributor: Leslie Lyness, DO, Associate Neurosurgeon at Geisinger Community Medical Center, Scranton, PA. Dr. Lyness completed her BS in Biology at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and was a member of the 1996 USA National and Olympic Field Hockey Team.
  • Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.    


Keep moving, eat healthy foods, and exercise regularly


NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” in The Times-Tribune.

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email:

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate clinical professor of medicine at The Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton, PA.