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Smoking Contributes to Back Pain and Ineffective Surgical Treatments
Date:11/18/2009

CHICAGO, Nov. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Smoking cigarettes not only contributes to lung cancer and emphysema, it also leads to back pain and spine problems, according to recent studies and observations from leading neurosurgeons in Chicago.

Dean Karahalios, MD, is encouraging Americans to "kick the habit" during the Nov. 19 Great American Smoke Out, a national nonsmoking day sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Throughout this month, Dr. Karahalios will offer a complimentary booklet for back pain sufferers.

Recent studies show smokers and former smokers are more likely to have more back problems and suffer from chronic back pain than non smokers. In a study published in the July 2008 Deutsches Arzteblatt International, it was determined that smokers and former smokers experienced chronic back problems more frequently than nonsmokers. Physicians attribute it to the nicotine, which restricts the flow of blood to the discs that cushion the spine.

"I have seen a number of failed spinal fusion procedures that could have been avoided if the patient would have stopped smoking," says Dean Karahalios, M.D., spine neurosurgeon at the Chicago Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroresearch (CINN). "Smoking can also compromise a patient's ability to recover from spinal fusion surgery."

Fifty-two year old Sheree Maddex of Addison, one of Dr. Karahalios' spine patients did get the message and quit smoking. She is genetically predisposed to degenerative disc disease. Her father and son both have severe back problems. She had her first cervical spine fusion in 2001. But things didn't improve, so in 2002, she had her L4 and L5 disc replaced by Dr. Karahalios. Then in 2004, she was surprised to learn she had lung cancer. After she had had her upper right lobe removed, she vowed to throw the cigarettes away forever. But she says, it may not have been soon enough.

"After 18 years, I finally quit," Sheree admits. "I
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SOURCE Chicago Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroresearch
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