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Throw Out Your Pack: Help Your Back

In honor of the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout (GASO), the Chicago Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroresearch (CINN) is distributing a complimentary back pain brochure with smoking-cessation tips. The brochure is available as a download from its website.

Chicago, IL (PRWEB) November 17, 2008 -- Smoking causes a host of medical problems. Most people know that smoking cigarettes contributes to lung cancer and emphysema, but lesser-known is the causal connection to back pain and spine problems. Recent studies and observations from leading neurosurgeons in Chicago concluded that smoking does play a role in spinal issues. Now there is one more reason to cast away cigarettes.

Physicians at the Chicago Institute for Neurosurgery and Neuroresearch (CINN) are encouraging Americans to "kick the habit" during the Nov. 20 Great American Smokeout, a national non-smoking day sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Throughout this month, CINN will offer a complimentary booklet for back pain sufferers with tips for "kicking the habit."

Recent studies show smokers and former smokers are more likely to have 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 non-smokers. 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 CINN. "Smoking can also compromise a patient's ability to recover from spinal fusion surgery."

Fifty-two-year-old Sheree Maddex of Chicago, IL, 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. Her first surgery was successful, but due to further degeneration she had her L4 and L5 disc replaced by Dr. Karahalios in 2002. 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 30 years, I finally quit," Sheree admits. "I realized that I wasn't getting any healthier and it was keeping me from healing after surgeries."

Sheree says her lung cancer is gone, but she continues to struggle with disc degeneration. Her debilitating pain prevented her from going to work at Evanston Hospital, where she was a cancer researcher. She couldn't stand or sit for any prolonged period of time. Dr. Karahalios recently fused four discs in her spine, replaced hardware and implanted a titanium cage around a section of her spine to prevent further compression and to help heal the bone fragments. Presently her pain has subsided and she spends a great deal of time in physical therapy.

Sheree adds, "Dr. Karahalios said it would be a slower recuperation than after my initial surgery, but I listen carefully to everything he says. I look forward to the day when I'm completely pain-free."

"Sheree has strength and determination," says Dr. Karahalios. "She was smart to quit smoking because she wasn't healing properly. My advice for everyone is: don't smoke, and if you are smoking now, please quit."

The back pain/smoking booklet can be obtained by visiting or by calling 773 250-1009.

About CINN
The Chicago Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroresearch medical group (CINN) is one of the nation's leading organizations for the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of people with brain and spine disorders. Originally founded in 1987, CINN is one of the Midwest's largest teams of neurosurgeons known for their pioneering treatments and minimally invasive techniques. The Chicago-based neurosurgery practice has offices in Chicago, Vernon Hills, Elmhurst, Skokie, Tinley Park, Orland Park and Harvey. For more information log on to


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