Most everyone knows that health risks associated with smoking – cancer, heart disease, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). But, did you know that smoking and arthritis has many risks too? Research shows smoking can alter the immune system, which affects the body’s ability to repair itself?
In the United States at least 23.5 million people are affected by some form of autoimmune disorders. Autoimmune diseases include such diseases as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis. A recent study in Nursing Times (May 1, 2013) states the even light smoking (one to seven cigarettes per day) may raise women’s arthritis risk, because it can increase painful rheumatoid nodules, which form in the joints. A recent article in Arthritis Today, reports that in one study, 33 percent of smokers had arthritis, while only 18 percent of non-smokers did.
More reasons to quit smoking include the American College of Rheumatology’s findings that quitting smoking can ease the pain from swollen and tender joints that accompany rheumatoid arthritis. Mark Fisher, MD, MPH, of New York University Medical Center’s Hospital for Joint Disease, commented, “RA patients who stop smoking may see an improvement in the number of joints that hurt them every day and in how they feel overall.”
So, if you are currently dealing with arthritis pain and smoke, you may want to consider stopping smoking. Visit your primary physician to create a smoking cessation plan. Effective tools include individual and group counseling, online smoking cessation programs, and behavioral cessation therapies, as well as nicotine replacement products and prescription non-nicotine medications. A combination of medication and counseling has been found to be most effective. When you decide to quit smoking, you should consult with a physician first before beginning any smoking cessation program.
The benefits may surprise you! According to The Surgeon General, quitting smoking is the single most important step a smoker can take to improve the length and quality of her or her life. No matter when you quit, your body will begin to repair the damage caused by smoking. For smokers suffering from arthritis or joint pain, the difference could be life changing.Like what you’ve read? Click here to subscribe to the blog!