How Smoking Damages Your Bones and Muscles

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in quit smoking

Dr. Howell

Cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death. In the US, more than 400,000 people die each year from smoking-related diseases. It is linked to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, and to cancers. However, most smokers are not aware of the negative effects of smoking to their bones and joints.


Effects of Smoking on Your Bones and Muscles

Human or male 3D anatomy with bones or skeleton and face or skulSmoking increases the risk of osteoporosis — this means you are more prone to bone fractures when you reach your 40s or 50s. You are 30 to 40 percent more likely to break your hips compared to nonsmokers of your age. Cigarette smoking weakens you bones in a number of ways, including:

  • Research suggests that cigarette smoking lessens the blood supply to your bones, just as it does to most parts of your body.
  • Nicotine in tobacco slows the production of the osteoblasts – the bone cells. As a result, you get fragile and weak bones.
  • Tobacco hampers the absorption of calcium. Without this essential nutrient, your bones cannot produce strong and healthy bone cells.
  • Toxic compounds in cigarette smoke deprives your body of estrogen. You lose estrogen more quickly than nonsmokers. It is important in the production and maintenance of strong bones especially in women.

Smoking affects every other parts of your musculoskeletal system, making you more at risk to injuries and diseases.


  • The rotator cuff on your shoulder tears nearly twice than nonsmokers, this is probably the reasons why smokers have poor tendons of this type.
  • You are 1.5 times more at risk of bursitis or tendonitis or other “overuse” injuries you’re your nonsmoker counterparts.
  • You are also at higher risk of suffering traumatic injuries, like fractures and sprains.
  • You are also more likely to suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and lower back pains.

Smoking affects wound and fracture healing.


  • It takes longer time for you to recover from fracture injuries. This is attributed to the adverse effects of smoking to the production of the osteoblasts.
  • You are also more likely to suffer from after-surgery complications than nonsmokers. Infections and poor wound healing are commonly observed to patients who smoke. This is due to the reduced supply of blood to the tissues.

Smoking affects your athletic capacity.

  • Because smoking impairs proper distribution of oxygen to your muscles by slowing and impairing lung function, and constricting the blood vessels there is a smaller amount of oxygen available for your muscles. This can result to muscle fatigue and burnout.
  • Cigarette smoking also hinders proper muscle development. Nutrients that are essential to muscle development are depleted faster therefore depriving your muscles of proper nutrition. As a result you get thinner and weaker muscles, putting you at greater risks for injuries and fractures during sports activities.

Smoking affects every inch of your body, from your tissues, organs, to your DNA. However, most of these negative effects are reversible. By quitting smoking now you can lessen your risk of injuries and other health complications. Adopting or developing a healthy diet and lifestyle helps your body to recover faster.


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