When you think of orthopedics, you probably don't think of smoking. After all, bones, joints, and muscles may seem unrelated to the lungs. However, when they undergo surgeries for hip replacements or injuries, current smokers are more likely to experience infection, significant pain, and poor healing.
Risks for Smokers During Surgery
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, current smokers are 53 percent more likely to have serious heart and lung problems after major surgery than people that have quit smoking. They are also 17 percent more likely to die after major surgery. Fortunately, the risks that smokers experience during procedures involving orthopedics aren't as severe as the risks they experience during major surgery. Still, smokers do have more problems than their non-smoking peers.
Dr. Bhaveen Kapadia of Sinai Hospital in Baltimore found that 8 percent of smoking patients required additional surgery within four years compared to just 1 percent of their non-smoking counterparts. Dr. Kapadia found that smokers scored about 1.5 points higher on a 10-point pain scale than patients that did not smoke. Also, fractures took about six weeks longer to heal, and smokers were more than twice as likely to experience fractures that did not heal.
Quitting smoking can significantly reduce these risks. While patients don't have risks as low as people who never habitually smoked, they still have much lower risks than current smokers. Many doctors suspect that smoking prevents sufficient oxygen from getting to the tissues. This lack of oxygen slows down the healing process and exposes smokers to more risks.
The CDC estimates that 70 percent of smokers want to quit, but quitting is not as easy as non-smokers may think. Experts suggest following that people who want to quit smoking before orthopedics procedures follow these five tips for success:
1. Don't smoke any tobacco or tobacco products. Every cigarette smoked does more harm to the body. Even occasional smoking is extremely harmful to the lungs, heart, and blood vessels.
2. Write down the reasons that you want to quit smoking. Some people want to discourage their children from smoking, and they want to protect their loved ones from secondhand smoke. Others decide to quit smoking to improve their health and their appearances.
3. Expect withdrawal symptoms. While some people do not experience withdrawal symptoms, other people have symptoms lasting up to a month. Use nicotine patches to lessen symptoms before your orthopedics procedure. You can also quit smoking with a friend or with the help of a support group. Support from others won't decrease withdrawal symptoms, but it can make them easier to withstand.
4. Take advantage of free resources. You can call the CDC's hotline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, or you can look online for information about quitting. If you're worried about gaining weight, then look online for tips about controlling weight gain when you quit smoking.
5. Be optimistic. Half of all smokers have successfully quit. You can also quit smoking before undergoing procedures involving orthopedics. You could increase your chances for successful surgery, and you could give your health a significant boost.