Smoking and Shoulder Surgery Recovery

smoking and shoulder surgery recoveryA new study has revealed that smoking after shoulder surgery can negatively impact the outcome of the procedure, as well as cause increased pain in patients. Smokers were also found to use more narcotics in order to control the pain after surgery, compared to non-smokers.

We’ll look at how smoking impacts shoulder surgery recovery and the measures that patients can take to ensure optimal recovery.

Smoking increases risks and cost of recovery

The new study, carried out by Dr Thomas Throckmorton and his colleagues at an American university, revealed tobacco users have a reduced mean improvement in their VAS scores than non-tobacco users. It looked into results of 163 patients who had undergone a total shoulder arthroplasty.

After 12 weeks, the study also showed tobacco users required more oral morphine; suggesting tobacco increases the amount of pain felt after shoulder surgery. The findings were published within the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery.

This isn’t the first time a study has revealed the negative impact of smoking. Several studies have revealed the adverse effects smoking can have on surgical recovery. In 2015, a study determined that smoking has a negative impact on the outcome of soft tissue-based shoulder injuries from both a clinical and basic science outcome perspective.

It wasn’t all bad news, however. The researchers didn’t find any real difference between the risk of complications or length of hospital stay in the two groups. What it does show is that tobacco use does negatively impact both the outcome of the surgery and it can lead to a tougher recovery.

Quitting smoking greatly reduces shoulder surgery risks

We are well aware of the damage that smoking can do to our lungs, but it can also negatively impact on our bones, muscles and joints, often contributing to a poor outcome from orthopaedic surgery. Nicotine can slow down the production of cells that form bones meaning broken bones can take longer to heal in smokers. Smokers also have a higher rate of complications from surgery including poor wound healing and higher infection rates.

A promising discovery made in the study was patients who quit smoking prior to having shoulder surgery can expect the same potential outcome as a non-smoker. So, if a patient is concerned about the potential tougher recovery, if they quit beforehand they can significantly reduce the tobacco-related risks.