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Back Surgery and Smoking? :/

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Old 10-24-2005, 05:36 AM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 9
OnyxSerpentFire HB User
Back Surgery and Smoking? :/

Hello. I am new here. I am scheduled for back surgery for Nov 15. I am a smoker (obviously). I am having a fusion (2 fractured verts and 2 discs need to be removed, lower back)

Anyway, i have to go for a chest xray on the 7th of Nov, along with the other pre-op tests. I know I have to quit smoking, I am trying really hard. I quit cold turkey last week, and then smoked because I was stressed, cut back from almost 1.5 pack a day to maybe like 6 cigs a day.

I have heard that to heal you shouldnt smoke, I know this. What about prior. its so hard not to smoke... being home all day, etc. I am also up in arms over the chest xray... talking myself into something being wrong,. I do have smokers cough... (never coughed up blood though, you know what I mean) Sooooo... I guess this is my intro/ please calm my butt down/ give me advice post. Thanks in advance. Onyx

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Old 10-24-2005, 06:35 AM   #2
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Louisville, Kentucky USA
Posts: 87
Re: Back Surgery and Smoking? :/

Hello there,
I hope that your surgery goes well! I welcome you to this board. There if a wealth of information here. So ask any question that you would like(remember the only stupid question is the one that is not asked!!) You did not say what kind of surgery you are going to have. Is it going to be a fusion? I have had a fusion. Mine was on L5-S1. One thing I did learn was to follow my doc's instructions, because there is alot of things that inhibit the growth of the fusion. It usually takes 6 months to a year for a fusion to take. When I went back to see my doc for my first check up. I had run out of pain meds the day before. I took 2 advil for pain. My doc said DO NOT take anything that has ibuprofen in it, because it will inhibit the growth of your fusion. Believe me when I say that hit home with me. I wasn't planning of going thru this again. Smoking will SLOW DOWN YOUR HEALING PROCESS! It could and I repeat could inhibit your fusion from growing. Think about it blood has oxygen in it if you smoke the less oxygen in your blood so it could inhibit the growth of your fusion. Because it takes healthy blood cells to grow bone. That is what your fusion does hopefully is grow bone. I do not smoke and on my 3 month exam my doc said there was a place he was concerned about. Well after my 1 year exam he said everything looked fine. That was a relief. As for your pre-op tests, have you been sick lately? My heart skips beats sometime. I am on meds for this. I was like this when I went for my pre-op exam and they still operated on me. Just calm down everything will go fine. I hope you have a blessed day!!!! TINCAN

Old 10-24-2005, 06:47 AM   #3
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 9
OnyxSerpentFire HB User
Re: Back Surgery and Smoking? :/

Thanks Tincan... I agree with you on the oxygen in the blood, and truth be told, I was able to quit smoking when I was pregnant with my children, so I think (know) I can do this.. harder when its just for me, know what I mean? Yes, I am having a fusion. I was born with a deformed vert (scotty dog's neck was broken- if you know that term)
Over the years, between riding a Harley, strenious (sp) work, etc, now I have 2 fractures and 3 discs that are bulging, herniated, and dessicated. I cant recall the numbers, the ones you stated look familiar, its my lower back. Thanks for the support, and you can bet I will be back with tons of

I do have to be pre-medicated before surgeries. Heart Murmur. This is my fisrt and hopefully last back surgery. ::: sigh ::: just scared, nevrved up... etc. I went so far as to plan my own funeral (in my head of course) Can you tell that Im scared?

Old 10-24-2005, 06:50 AM   #4
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 9
OnyxSerpentFire HB User
Re: Back Surgery and Smoking? :/

ps- anyone know why this problem is so common these days? I was talking with my Dad last week, and he said people just didnt have to have back surgery back in the day. I know technology, medical advances, etc... but what the heck is different now, vs, back then, that we all need this done?

And for the record, I am about tired of taking pain meds.

Old 10-24-2005, 04:19 PM   #5
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 489
notpain HB User
Re: Back Surgery and Smoking? :/

You have to decide how important smoking is in your life. The statistics for smokers having sucessful fusion are much lower than those who do not smoke. You have to decide if having a messed up back is more or less important than smoking. Doctors are not singling you out because of your habit they are merely trying to help you have a better chance of success.

Old 10-24-2005, 07:10 PM   #6
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Re: Back Surgery and Smoking? :/

What is so different nowadays compared to years ago is that surgery carried a much higher risk and the outcomes were much less successful. So most people put up with a lot more chronic pain and discomfort because the surgical alternatives were worse.
Pooby Gal

Old 10-24-2005, 08:32 PM   #7
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carol632 HB User
Re: Back Surgery and Smoking? :/

I have an opinion on why back surgery is so much more common now. Of course, there is the fact that technology has advanced, but I believe our backs are just much weaker, due to the lack of exercise we now get. In the days gone by, people walked a lot more, did lots of physical labor, didn't throw clothes in the washer, etc. If you needed something from the store, you didn't drive your car a half block! People pushed the lawn mower, chopped wood, etc and all that made for strong back muscles which helped keep the discs in place. Then too, I think people today have less tolerance. We have become a "fix it" society. A pill should help with anything and everything, dinners come out of boxes and so on. Thats just my humble opinion but I bet there are a lot who agree.

As for the smoking issue, I'm not going to beat it to death. You know the answer and now it is up to you. Some doctors insist you stop at least 3 months prior to the surgery and I agree that smoking inhibits healing even tho I myself am a smoker and was lucky enough to fuse with all 3 fusions I had.

Let me say welcome to the forum and that I wish you the best of luck in both endeavors.

2 lami's, 3 fusions
bone spur removal
cerv. fusion, 1 level
morphine pump

Old 10-25-2005, 03:58 AM   #8
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Posts: 571
Bionicwan HB User
Re: Back Surgery and Smoking? :/

Welcome to the board Onyx ~

We're glad your here!

I agree with everything Carol said ...
as for stopping prior - my surgeon also said stopping a minimum of 3 months prior sx is best for a successful outcome.

Best of luck in your efforts to curtail and or stopping smoking!


Old 10-25-2005, 05:11 AM   #9
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 9
OnyxSerpentFire HB User
Re: Back Surgery and Smoking? :/

Thanks to you all... I think I had a touch of the flu last night, or something... ick... I was in bed by 6pm. I agree that smoking is less important than anything in my life, including my back pain. I really didnt think I was being singled out by my Doc, he just never really specified about pre-op smoking. (the nerves ya know? LOL- I tend to smoke when I am nerved up) I was wondering what other ppl thought of it... thanks for the advice.!

I also agree that people arent people of way back when,.... you are right, I will be the first to admit that I do jump in the car to go to the store half a block away. Sad really, but its what people do now. And you are right.

Thanks to all of you for the welcomes. I am really gonna need you all as the day comes closer. Love, Onyx

Old 10-26-2005, 08:03 AM   #10
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Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 32
victorita HB User
Re: Back Surgery and Smoking? :/

Hi... !!! I wish you the best of luck with your fusion!

I say, cut down your nicotine levels in the weeks up to the surgery, and then afterwards, just don't light up. Let your pain distract you from your nic fits.

That's what I did - I smoked alot less (I had my roomate "ration" my cigarettes for me), I smoked a few "goodbye" cigarettes the night before my surgery, and then I never looked back.

Hahaha... a year later, and I do look back occasionally, but even though I'm nostalgic about smoking I DON'T want to go back!!!

Good luck, whatever you decide!!! You can do it!!!!

Old 04-02-2011, 02:18 PM   #11
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Location: New Jersey, USA
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Imarealpill HB UserImarealpill HB User
Re: Back Surgery and Smoking? :/

My 38 year old neighbor had spine surgery with BAK cage. He dropped dead 3 weeks after the surgery due to a clot. He was a heavy smoker, apparently, because I used to see him smoking all the time when he walked his dogs. After 3 days of smoking and walking the dogs...he dropped dead, leaving a grieving widow and teenage daughter.

This is a serious thing. You really ought to quit smoking 3 months before any type of spinal surgery.

I am not a doctor, but it was shocking to hear of such a young person dying because of a clot post-back surgery.

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