People smoke for a variety of reasons. It can be physical, psychological, mental, or emotional. Some even do it for no apparent reason at all. While the reasons aren’t probably as numerous as the effects, upper cervical chiropractors and scientists believe there is another likely consequence.
A study was completed in 2018 where the degeneration of cervical discs was compared among three groups: active smokers, passive smokers, and those who have never smoked. The MRI results showed higher numbers from the active smoking group members than those from the non-smoking team. The research concluded that smoking might likely hasten the degenerative process of cervical discs. As a result, neck pain can intensify quickly.
What are the cervical discs?
Did you know that the cervical spine refers to the neck? Now that we have cleared the air, let’s learn a little more about this section of our body.
According to upper cervical chiropractors, the neck might look slender and delicate, but it is quite strong. It can handle the weight of our head while keeping it linked to our body. The neck has seven bones stacked on top of each other. These bones comprise the vertebrae. They are also often referred to as C1 to C7.
Now the vertebrae need some cushion to ensure it remains flexible to allow fluid movement of our heads. This is where the cervical discs come into play. These discs are nestled between each of the stacked bones, and they have two essential parts:
- Exterior: The outer cover consists of fibers from collagen, which makes it tough. This outer layer takes point in distributing any impact felt by the neck.
- Interior: The inner component is made up of mucoprotein gel. The soft and jelly-like core helps the discs to be flexible. They also create a cushion to brace for impact.
How does smoking affect the cervical discs?
When you burn something, a likely characteristic of your by-product is dryness. If the effects of smoking reach the interior components of the cervical discs, it can dehydrate the mucoprotein gel and leave the core dry and brittle. This was covered in a study that was discussed at the 2016 AAP conference. Smoking was cited as one of the possible reasons that speed up the degeneration of cervical discs.
This same study also disclosed that smokers are more prone to microvascular disease, which constricts the blood vessels. Narrow openings can adversely impact the flow of blood to areas like cervical discs. When the discs do not get adequately nourished, they are less able to bounce back from injuries. They might become less flexible, as well. When this happens, your neck might need to exert more effort to achieve normal flexibility when the discs become harder and lose their gel-like quality. This can trigger a domino effect that ultimately results in neck pain.
Pain travels to the other parts of the body
Another research was recently completed to establish a connection between pain and smoking. The study did not just focus on a certain body part but sought to confirm that smoking can lead to pain. Results gathered from the Centers for Disease showed that more than 2000 responded to the survey undertaken from 2003-2004.
The respondents reported pain in these areas:
- Arms and/or legs
- Upper and/or lower back
The paper concluded that smoking could trigger pain in other areas of the body and not just in the neck. It is even possible for the pain to be felt simultaneously in multiple spots. The scales do not seem to weigh in favor of smoking.
Pain due to upper cervical misalignment
Your cervical spine may no longer be aligned if cervical disc degeneration has set in. Information related to and from the brain and the body might be affected. In this case, you are likely in pain. The thing is, there is no way for us to determine by ourselves if something is out of place.
Feeling your way around is easier said than done, especially if we do not know what we are looking for. We understand that some parts of our body are aching. When the intensity levels start to rise, our attention starts to focus on seeking a reprieve.
Pain Relief with the Help of Upper Cervical Chiropractors
There are numerous options available to manage pain in the neck and other parts of the body. A less likely known option is seeking upper cervical chiropractic care. Upper cervical chiropractors focus on assessing if there is a misalignment in the spine. When scan results show there is, they can propose an approach to correct and realign your body.
They will treat your case as unique. Although similarities are unavoidable, they make sure you thoroughly assess your conditions and the contributing factors. They will strive to develop an approach that is customized to address your pain issues.
Upper cervical chiropractors will work with you in possibly achieving sustainable outcomes. They will make sure you know how to look after yourself, your neck, and your body. Your continued well-being is essential to you, and they would like to contribute to making that happen.
Although pain is not exclusively brought about by smoking, studies have shown a clear connection between the two. Being more aware of the possible repercussions might help come up with a way to ease up and ultimately kick this habit. If the pain you are experiencing is currently localized to your neck, it might not be a good idea to wait for it to trigger the other pain receptors in your body.
Schedule an appointment with one of the upper cervical chiropractors near you to help you cope with neck pain.