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Does Smoking Impact Musculoskeletal Health?

October 11, 2023
By Pivot
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Tobacco use is widely recognized for its detrimental impact on health, particularly in relation to the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. However, what often goes unnoticed is the profound harm it inflicts on musculoskeletal health.

Smoking reduces blood supply to bones and body tissues, increasing the risk of bone fractures and negatively impacting tissue health. 

Here’s a detailed overview of how smoking impacts musculoskeletal health.

Smoking Is Bad for Your Musculoskeletal Health

Impaired Blood Supply and Calcium Absorption

Smoking has far-reaching consequences on musculoskeletal health, starting with its adverse effects on blood supply. People who smoke are 1.5 times more likely to suffer from musculoskeletal conditions than those who don’t. This is primarily due to the toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke that reduce blood flow. 

A reduced blood supply delays the delivery of vital nutrients and oxygen to musculoskeletal tissues, which are essential for their proper function and maintenance.

Increased Risk of Osteoporosis and Fractures

One of the most significant concerns arising from impaired musculoskeletal health due to smoking is the increased risk of osteoporosis and fractures. Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by weakened bones, making them more susceptible to injury. 

Moreover, smoking hinders the body's ability to repair and maintain bone density, thus increasing fracture vulnerability.

Decreased Muscle Function and Physical Performance

Smoking doesn’t just increase the risk of musculoskeletal injury. It also compromises muscle function, decreasing muscle strength and physical performance. As a result, individuals who smoke may find it more challenging to engage in physical activities and maintain an active lifestyle.

Aggravation of Arthritis

Smoking triggers an inflammatory response in the body, exacerbating conditions like arthritis. Arthritis is characterized by joint inflammation, pain, and deterioration. 

In a 2014 study, researchers found that the risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) was 26% higher among those who smoked 1–10 pack years than those who never smoked. The risk was doubled for those with more than 20 pack-years of smoking.

The Benefits of Quitting Smoking

Quitting smoking can drastically improve musculoskeletal health. When individuals quit smoking, their bodies gradually regain normal, healthy function and can begin to reverse many of the associated risks.

Improved Blood Circulation

Quitting smoking promotes better blood circulation. This quickly increases the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to bones and tissues. This improved blood flow helps the body repair and maintain bone density more effectively, reducing the vulnerability to fractures.

Restored Calcium Absorption

Quitting smoking allows for the restoration of proper calcium absorption. Adequate calcium absorption is crucial for enhancing bone strength and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.

Lower Risk of Injuries and Pain

Quitting smoking also decreases the likelihood of overuse injuries, such as stress fractures, and lowers the risk of experiencing low back pain and arthritis. Furthermore, research shows quitting mitigates the chances of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

Financial Benefits

Beyond the obvious health advantages, quitting smoking can also lead to substantial financial savings. It can reduce the need for emergency room visits, medications, and healthcare premiums associated with treating smoking-related health conditions.


Tobacco use has a profound and negative impact on musculoskeletal health. Smoking increases the risk of musculoskeletal conditions, compromises bone and muscle function, and exacerbates inflammatory conditions like arthritis. 

Quitting smoking offers numerous benefits, including improved blood circulation, restored calcium absorption, reduced risk of injuries and pain, and potential financial savings. It's never too late to quit smoking and take a significant step towards safeguarding your musculoskeletal health.


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Tobacco use has a profound and negative impact on musculoskeletal health.

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