If you look all over the news especially on ESPN there is no way you are missing all the hype behind Tom Brady the quarterback of the New England Patriots. Now, let me preface that I am a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan and it pains me to even talk about him. But it is really amazing what he has done for the length of time that he has done it. How has he been this good for so long? How is he getting ready for his 17th season in the NFL and 16th as a starter? Brady is 40 today August 3rd and in football years that is an eternity! The average NFL career is between 3-6 years depending on position and ability of play. Brady has broken records, won 5 Super Bowls, is a two-time NFL MVP and has the most wins as an NFL quarterback EVER! So how does he do it? How has he been able to keep up with all of these other younger more versatile quarterbacks? And how does it seem that he just has a knack to win the big game?
To be an NFL player you have to be special! You don’t just luckily get drafted and you don’t just get a starting job because you made the team. You have to work and work hard if you want to be successful in the league. There are many players that have gone past their years as a football player trying to get that one last season before leaving the game that they have loved to play for so long. Payton Manning comes to my mind right away. Even though he won a Super Bowl to end his career he was a shell of himself that year. His defense carried him most of the way and he did what he needed to do to win, even if it wasn’t pretty. Tom Brady has evolved as the exact opposite only getting better and more focused with age.
Let’s start with his diet and how he decides to fuel his body. It is no secret that he eats vegan most of the year. Now I’m not saying this is the option for ultimate health because there is no way that I could go without meat. But this is his secret to success. Diet plays a huge rule in your health and weight control. I have posted in older blog about the 80/20 rule that most should follow. 80% diet and 20% exercise. There is no need to kill yourself at the gym 6 days a week if you are not eating the right things to fuel your body. Next, his workout regimen is very strict requiring him to wake up very early each day because of his busy schedule as an NFL player. His workouts along with him being very conscious of his health play a huge rule in how he is able to keep going. He is a very focused individual and it shows through all that he does.
If you want to get serious about your health and the way that you feel I suggest you take a look at what this man has been able to accomplish. Tom Brady is an extreme case, but he is a perfect example of what hard work and dedication to your body and health can get you. Is 40 really the new 25? If so, Patriots fans would seem to think he might have at least 10 years left in the league! We all wonder how much longer he will be in the league for. The short answer, as long as his body will let him be. Truth is there is no telling how much longer he will play. He’s like the damn energizer bunny! All that I know is as a Steelers fan his retirement can’t come soon enough!
As most of you know that read my posts my son plays travel baseball and I’m a coach on the team. Lately it has taken over my life, and I’m okay with that because I enjoy it so much! But I keep finding different reasons to talk about it because these kids show me something different each week. As with all 9 year olds there is an up and down attitude about them each day, week and month. One day they look like super stars out there and nothing can stop them. The next day they look like they are back in T-ball again. This past weekend was one of those weekends where you wondered how they would respond after the events that took place.
We played in a tournament called the Battle of the Boarder in Youngstown Ohio. Leading up to the weekend we knew that competition was going to be very good. 2 teams in particular were going to be there. Beaver Valley Red and West Hills. The last time we played West hills they beat up on us pretty badly. By about 13 runs to be exact! It wasn’t pretty, but our kids had bounced back in the next tournament they played in to take 2nd place. We were in a different bracket then either team and were set to face 2 teams we had never played. The day before the tournament started one dropped out and our schedule changed. Now we were scheduled to play Beaver Valley. I was excited to see how our kids matched up against them since we had never played them before. Once the kids heard that was who they were playing that’s all they talked about. They obsessed about it actually! And it was not in a good way. The game started and we walked the first batter, not a good start! Nerves were probably going crazy for most, but we managed to get 2 outs and the score was only 1-0. Then all hell broke loose! We committed 6 errors giving up 12 runs in the first inning! After the first inning it was 12-0! How does this happen? Little things like catching the ball before trying to throw it. Balls going through their legs, and coming in on fly balls instead of stepping back first. All things our kids do very well most of the time. Their nerves got the best of them. Needless to say the game ended in 4 innings after losing 18-1. We lost the second game 12-6 against another team we had never played mostly due to mistakes and kids just not being in the game. It was tough to watch and hard to talk to the boys afterwards. Sunday would tell us what type of team we have and how they respond.
The next morning the kids warmed up and you could tell they were more lively and upbeat. They started out strong and lead most of the game until the bottom of the 5th giving up 2 runs to be down 5-4. The kids battled that last inning but couldn’t find a way to get another run. We lost that game, but showed great resilience and determination to come back after getting the crap beat out of us the day before. It was great to see how our boys responded.
I wanted to share this with you all because there are always going to be times in life and in physical therapy that you are going to want to quit. Things are just going to get too hard for you and giving up seems to be the easiest thing to do. I know because I have felt like quitting before. My first 2 weeks of PT school I almost quit! I felt that it was going to be too hard and too much for me to handle. I was sick of school at that point and now I was going to have to go for an additional 3 years! I went home that weekend and thought about it a lot. I kept telling myself I could go and get a job for a little while and figure it out. Then I realized that I committed to doing this and this was what I felt passionate about. I’m so glad that I decided to continue my journey. Just know that it’s normal to want to just give up when things are tough and not going your way. It’s the way you respond and show resilience that makes all the difference.
I am one of the coaches of my son’s travel baseball team. My son is almost 9 and it’s his first full year of kid pitch travel baseball. He has played with most of the kids on his team since he was 4. They all started out on a rec team together. Year to year you can see the improvement. Constant practice and playing for most of the year is our life right now. It’s so much different than when I was a kid. I played a lot of baseball, but only from April till August. These kids started in November and will play until the end of summer. Constant practice and games keep these kids consistent. They stay focused by doing things on a regular basis and it shows. Most of the things that we succeed at in life are done on a regular basis. We make a habit of them and they become a constant.
This past weekend we had another tournament for baseball. We played very well in pool play to earn the second seed to start the playoff/championship round. Sunday afternoon we were set to play the same team we beat the day before 5-4. It was a close game, but we played flat that game. The kids seemed pretty upbeat at the beginning of this game, but it didn’t start out the way we wanted it to. My son started the game pitching and was a little off with his location. He ended up giving up a 2 run home run in the 1st inning. Luckily we got out of it without going down by any more runs. He was down, but his teammates encouraged him as well as all of the coaches after getting out of the inning. The kids were off and losing most of the game. We entered the second to last inning down 7-3. The kids battled this inning getting timely hits and staying disciplined at the plate scoring 4 runs to tie it up! We would have scored 1 more if it wasn’t for me running my son into an out at third after a nice 2 run double. The last inning comes and the other team scored 2 runs to make it 9-7. Things just were not going our way. The rain came off and on and it was just a miserable feeling. The kids did not seem defeated though. They have been in this situation before! This is what they practice for each and every week. We ended up with bases loaded and 2 outs, a situation every athlete wants to be in! As a kid we always played and yelled out 2 outs bottom of the 9th bases loaded down by 1!. So who steps up to the plate? My son steps into the box ready and focused. First pitch is thrown and he swings out of his shoes! He was pumped up for this! I yell down from 3rd where I was coaching and tell him to relax, because a hit scores two! Next pitch comes and boom! He smokes this ball high in the air towards left center field. I knew it was gonna at least score two right? Then it keeps going and going and I yell “GET OUT OF HERE!” And the ball sailed over the fence! You would have thought I hit the ball because I was jumping up and down like a little kid screaming! As my son rounded 3rd he had the biggest smile on his face and it’s a moment I will never forget and cherish forever! I’m getting chills right now just typing this! The kids went crazy and it was just a great moment to be a part of! They won the game!
These kids never cease to amaze me! They showed me something that day that will always stick with me. Putting in the work and staying consistent will always pay off in the end. They never gave up on each other and they never quit. Even when my son gave up a home run in the first inning he kept his composure and stayed focused. Every single one of them contributed to that great victory!
I always like to bring things back to a situation related to physical therapy or situations in life in general. If we stay consistent with anything in life we are going to make our situation better. If we practice at something or make a habit of doing something on the regular it’s proven that you have a better chance of success. If you are trying to be more healthy then make a commitment to stick with a new way of eating and doing some sort of physical activity weekly. Do these things at the same time and same day to make a habit and stay consistent. When you make an appointment to come to physical therapy stick to it and commit to the full length of treatment sessions. Do your program at home and stay consistent. It’s proven to work because I saw it first hand this past weekend.
“Why do I feel a cracking in my neck?” “When I turn my head I hear snap, crackle pop why?” I hear these questions all the time in my clinic and it’s a valid question to have considering a lot of people experience this at some point. Cracking and popping in joints throughout the body are normal and we have a lot of joints in our neck. However, if cracking is accompanied by pain or some sort of swelling then it may be time to get it looked at by a health care professional.
Have you ever heard of crepitus? Crepitus refers to any type of noise or sensation such as a cracking, snapping, cracking, popping or grinding sound heard when a joint is moved. This symptom is common in your knees and usually does not accompany pain. The underlying cause of crepitus in the neck is not fully understood. Here are a few reasons why we tend to here those cracking sounds in our joints.
Synovial joint fluid pressure changes:
There are various studies that have been done to find out what actually causes the sound of cracking in our joints. Some say that it is the bursting of a gas bubble the joints synovial fluid. Others say it is the sound of the bubble being formed. Either way the cause and sound can come from either or.
Ligament or tendon moving around a bone:
Another reason for the cracking to happen is the possibility of a ligament or a tendon rolling over top of a bone. This can happen around all types of joints in the body not just the neck.
Bone on bone grinding:
Although this is the most uncommon reason, bone on bone grinding can cause a sound to be produced in your neck or joints. Once the articular cartilage wears away there is nothing left to prevent the bones from rubbing together. This in turn, can cause the sound of cracking or popping at times. This condition is called osteoarthritis. This condition usually happens gradually, but can accelerate if you experience an injury or surgery to the area. This type of cracking is usually accompanied by pain, limitation of movement and the cracking will happen with every movement.
Although there are many reasons people experience cracking, I always suggest getting yourself evaluated by a physical therapist or another health care professional to see what can be done for prevention of injury or symptoms.
Educating yourself as well as being educated about your body and some of the injuries that we have is very important. Google is a very powerful tool that we use for different things throughout the day. You hear people all the time saying, “Just google it!” It’s so easy isn’t it? It’s also very easy to ask questions about what is going on. When patients are seen by a physical therapist, a PCP, a surgeon or dentist questions should be asked by both the patient and practitioner. Communication is key to the success of the treatment set forth. As a practitioner you need to know details about what the patient is going through. You need to know what type of symptoms they are experiencing so your course of action will follow that. As a patient you need to know what is going on and what is going to be done about it. Do you think this is important?
I was just evaluating a patient after he had had shoulder surgery the other day. The script said eval and treat, status post right shoulder surgery. I had started talking to him about when his surgery was and asked him a few questions about what was done. I knew he did not have a rotator cuff repair, but I was unsure as to what was actually done because the script was so vague. I said what exactly did you have done to your shoulder? The patient looked at me with a straight face and said “ I have no idea what the doctor did he just told me I needed surgery.” WHAT????? Are you kidding me? I didn’t say that to the patient, but I was for sure thinking it. What kind of person would just take the doctors word for it and let them cut into their body part without even knowing what they were doing? It makes absolutely no sense to me. Now, I want to give the benefit of the doubt to the surgeon because I’m sure he explained something to him. Or did they?
This isn’t the first patient I’ve had like this and it wont be the last. Are they putting too much trust in their surgeon? I would say yes they are. I would never recommend to do a treatment on a patient without first explaining to them exactly what was going on and what we are trying to do to help it. Educating yourself about your condition through self searches and questions is highly recommended and a big key to help yourself get well. I’m not suggesting to self diagnose yourself. I am simply suggesting that you research your problem so you can have some sort of knowledge about your condition, then ask questions. Knowing exactly what is going on helps understand why things are being done. Don’t just let a medical professional treat you without knowing exactly what they are treating you for. We all have to be proactive in our care and take action to be more informed about what is being treated and why. This, in my opinion, will help clinician and patient relationships as well as trust. Educate yourself and stay informed, only good can come of it.
Everyone wants to loose weight at some point in their life. Some people have struggled their whole lives trying to figure out the magical ingredient to lose that unwanted poundage that has taken over their midsection. Losing weight and keeping it off is a huge challenge. It’s just not easy for a lot of people, including myself. I have patients come into my office with lower back pain, knee pain, hip pain and they are overweight. Most of the time they will say “If I could just lose some weight I know it would help with my pain problems.” Or “I want to lose weight because I know it will help, but my pain prevents me from exercising.” If you ask most people will tell you that if they don’t exercise they have a hard time losing weight. Is this really true? If we limited our physical activity, would this effect our ability to lose weight? Does the way we eat have anything to do with our ability to lose weight?
Exercise has great benefits for your body. It strengthens muscles, helps your cardiovascular system, lowers blood pressure and helps you release the chemical Serotonin the “feel good” chemical of the body. This helps your mood change after a workout. Have you ever felt lousy after a workout? I would probably say no! The bottom line is that exercise makes you feel better, boosts your health and it also can be fun. Exercise helps burn calories, which in turn helps you lose weight right? If we burn more calories than we take in then in turn we lose weight. This equation works well, but it wont last for long if all we are doing is an insane workout routine.
Our eating habits can also help with weight lose. People tend to say “I can’t have that I’m dieting!” Or “I am on this diet for the next 4 weeks to get down to my beach body!” Crash diets are just that…they crash! If you decide to start counting your calories and follow the newest “fad” diet plan it might work for a few weeks or maybe a month. Eventually it will catch up to you, especially when you start to eat the same old stuff you used to. Most people will have short term success with these type of diets and leave them saying “I have tried dieting and I just can’t seem to lose the weight.”
So what is it that most of us are doing wrong that is causing us to either not lose weight? Or gaining it back after we have lost it? The short answer is we are relying solely on either exercise alone or some fad diet plan. I suggest to patients that they should try and follow the 80/20 rule. 80% food intake and 20% exercise. Most people would think it should be the opposite. But to lose weight and keep it off for the long haul there is a balance that needs to happen and food is usually the main culprit. Changing the way we eat has such a huge effect on the way we can lose weight, get healthy and stay healthy. If you continue to workout like crazy and not get the proper nutrition you are just being counterproductive. You can’t use exercise as your primary source to lose weight. There has to be some sort of balance both ways.
What I suggest for people to do is first get away from those processed foods and sugar! Sodium alone keeps weight on and those foods are packed with it. Usually I will tell people to fill half of their plate with vegetables. Green leafy vegetables, broccoli, spinach, artichokes, asparagus are just a few that I like. You only need about a fist full of protein on your plate and a palm full of your starches such as brown rice or yams. Getting fat in your diet is also recommended. Just make sure it’s good fat. I eat at least 1 avocado a day. Try and eat cleaner foods and drink lots of water. In order to stay fully hydrated throughout the day you should drink half you body weight in ounces per day. This can also help your body stay full and not hungry. Sometimes when you think you are hungry you are really dehydrated. Exercise 3 times per week is plenty for about 25-30 minutes. You can do more if you would like. It’s totally up to you.
These are all suggestions that you can try. I am by no means a nutritional expert or a dietitian. I am solely going by experience alone and what has worked for me. As with all things new I recommend to do this for at least a 6-8 week period to really see results. Let me know how it goes!
My son plays on 2 different baseball teams. He is on a travel team and an in-house athletic association team. For his travel team, we have been practicing in an indoor facility since late November. He is fortunate enough to play with most of the same kids for the past 3-4 years. They work well together and it shows. Since they started practicing until now there is a noticeable difference in their attitude, their work ethic, their desire and of course their overall ability! I’m one of the coaches, and it’s really amazing to see the transformation before your eyes with these kids! It’s truly something special. I can see that every single one of them has benefited from being on this team. You can see it from the pop of the mitt, the crisp and quick hands of a fielder and the sound of more and more solid contact of the bat! It wasn’t always like this though.
Rewind to November…and so it begins. Most of these kids play multiple sports, my son included. Flag and tackle football had just just ended and basketball was just about to get under way. Baseball seemed to be on the back burner for most. It usually is at that time of year. Practice started 2 days a week and only half the kids were ever there at one time for the first month and a half. It was frustrating at first because you could never really get the kids to gel. Even though these kids have all played with each other, there was just no consistency. And it showed in practice during drills and hitting exercises. You could tell which kids had been there more and which had not. It’s only natural that with consistency you improve. Over the next several months once basketball started to wind down is when it really started to show. You could just see it from practice to practice. Their attitudes changed, their ability to do things asked of them and the desire was there. Once we had a consistent bunch of kids who were committed and practiced together, is when they all started to gel together.
Just this past Saturday my sons in house team had their first practice. For most of the kids this was their first practice of the year. I am not a coach on this team, but I offered to help if needed. The coach talked to the kids at first and had them warm up. As they were warming up he stopped everyone and asked them to watch my sons mechanics on how he throws the ball. He said “everyone watch Caden and how he throws.” He wanted them to watch the entire motion through his follow through. He said that’s exactly how I want you guys to throw the ball. Great mechanics there! I’m always hard on my son with everything, and since baseball has been my passion since I was 5 I am extra hard on him with this! I thought, wow he is using my son as an example to all the players on what to do! Later on in the practice I was helping hit ground balls to the kids. I didn’t say much a I was just observing the team and what kids needed help with. The coach from time to time would jump in and tell a kid to do something different. When I coach for our travel team I am constantly correcting form, the way kids take a ground ball, throwing mechanics and everything in between. Like I said, I am extra hard on my son! What Dad isn’t hard on their kid? So I decided since I didn’t know very many people on this team I would just help and sit back. I was shocked, amazed and PROUD all at the same time! Not once did I have to correct my son! I mean I was really shocked that I didn’t have to even yell his name. Those that coach with me will tell you they hear me yell CADEN all the time during practice. I saw everything that we practiced so hard during the winter and more. He did everything that I normally have to correct him on! And to top it off he was instructing kids on how to do things better turning double plays! It was a very proud moment for me as a Dad!
I always try and take things back to how it pertains to Physical Therapy. This example is no different. My title for this blog post is practice, consistency and effort. Practice makes “BETTER” in my opinion. It never makes you perfect. There is always something that you can work on and something to improve on. Consistency with practice and technique will always help to focus on things that you are having difficulty with. The amount of Effort you put into something shows in your results. The more effort you put in, the better the results. If you truly want to get better, which I feel that every patient that comes to me does, then you have to take into account these 3 things. My son has shown me that with these 3 things he can do amazing things, and he is only almost 9! When I think about it though I wouldn’t expect anything less from him or my patients!
If you have the occasional twinge of pain in your knees, hips or even your back, it is your body’s way of warning you of a potential problem. Pain is your body’s way to tell you that something is wrong and you need to do something about it. Similar to an engine light coming on in your car, pain is indicating a possible problem. Now, what is the cause? There are multiple reasons why your body sends off pain signals. First, if you injure tissue your brain tells you that you are in pain. If you have bad posture, eventually you will feel pain. Our joints are designed to take a lot of pressure during different activities. But when that pressure is increased just the slightest it can cause an enormous chain reaction and your function can be lost. So how does increased body weight really impact our joints health?
Studies have shown that for every pound of excess weight exerts 4 pounds of pressure on your joints, your knees in particular. Let’s just think about that for a minute…if you are 10 pounds overweight you have 40 pounds of extra pressure on your knees. If you are 100 pounds overweight now you have 400 pounds of pressure on your knees!!! That’s a crazy statistic! Now, walking on a level surface puts a force equivalent to 1 ½ times your body weight normally with everyone. So if you weigh 200 pounds you are putting 300 pounds of pressure on your knees. If you add an incline, the pressure goes up. Going up and down a step increases this pressure 2 to 3 times. And squatting, a very functional activity that we all do on a day to day basis, can add up to 5 times your body weight of pressure. This is why it is so important to know what we are doing to our bodies and the affect a few extra pounds can have.
What does this mean? Well, with increased pressure on joints this can lead to joint break down, in turn causing osteoarthritis. Obesity and being overweight is one of the leading risk factors of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is caused from wear and tear of joints. Once the cartilage is worn away this causes a bone on bone atmosphere which causes inflammation in the joint. Increased weight causes this breakdown to occur quicker than normal. And, pain levels can be even worse with those that already have osteoarthritis. Now you have an inflamed joint that is bearing 3-5 times the amount of pressure that it should.
What can be done to avoid this? The simple answer is to lose some weight. Most people can afford to lose a few extra pounds. It’s easier said than done, I know. It all comes down to 2 questions. Is it important to you? And what are my goals? You really have to decide what is important to you. If not having pain is important to you, then this should be a priority. If being able to do any activity you want without pain, then this should be a priority. What are your goals? I would suggest setting small goals at first so that they can be easily reached. Seek out another partner to hold you accountable during your journey. In the long run it’s a life style change and it needs to be done in steps. Nobody ever said that getting to a healthy lifestyle is easy, but once you get there it is very easy to maintain that environment.
So to sum it up, weight has a huge impact on your joint health. Your joints already have a great deal of pressure put on them when doing a specific activity. Adding any additional weight, just increases that pressure even more. This, in turn, can cause other issues such as osteoarthritis. Having a healthier lifestyle can and will prevent such things from happening and should be a priority.
My feet burn throughout the day. My hands gets tingling into the fingers when I’m sleeping. I have less feeling in my feet and sometimes they are cold. These are all things patients tell me in my office and wonder what it is that is causing these symptoms. Is it peripheral neuropathy? What is peripheral neuropathy? The name peripheral neuropathy states what it is in its name. Peripheral: meaning away from or beyond the brain and spinal cord, neuro meaning relating to the nerves, and pathy meaning disease. So a nerve related disease occurring away from the brain and spinal cord in short. Patients ask me all the time if I think they have this condition. Here is a little information about it and what type of symptoms patients have.
The peripheral nerves are a network that connects our spinal cord and brain to our skin, muscles and internal organs. These nerves arrange themselves along lines in the body called dermatomes. These dermatome patterns supply the feeling to certain parts of our body. If one or more are affected you can track the nerve root by the pattern of pain or numbness that you feel. Clinically this is how we can come up with a conclusion as to what nerve is being affected. Damage to these nerves takes away the communication pathway from the brain and other parts of your body. This in turn can cause impairments to our muscles and show signs of weakness. It can also cause sensation problems to our upper and lower extremities causing pain.
Types of Peripheral Neuropathy:
Mononeuropathy- Damage to a single peripheral nerve is called mononeuropathy. An injury or trauma to a certain area can cause this. Repetitive movements can also cause this type. Carpal Tunnel syndrome is a common example of a mononeuropathy. Other types are Radial and Ulnar nerve palsy. Numbness and weakness can be caused by these types of mononeuropathies.
Polyneuropathy- This accounts for the greatest number of peripheral neuropathy cases. This happens when multiple nerves in the body are affected at the same time. Causes are usually poor nutrition, alcohol abuse and diabetes. Diabetic neuropathy is one of the most common forms. Symptoms include numbness, tingling, loss of feeling and burning in the hands or feet. This can cause people to get burned very easily as well as develop wounds and not know about them. This is why diabetics are extra careful with protecting their feet.
Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy:
Acquired- meaning that is is caused by an environmental factor. Toxins, illness or an infection. Some examples are alcoholism, certain kinds of cancer and poor nutrition.
Hereditary- these types are genetically passed on from your parents.
Idiopathic- these are types that are from an unknown cause.
Knowing the symptoms can help a patients ability in taking care of themselves. Knowing what to do and how to treat is helpful too. If you or someone you know has symptoms similar to what is described above you should seek medical help. A neurologist would be the first medical professional to see. Neuropathy can be a very debilitating disorder, but if it is treated it can be managed.
Are you a smoker? Have you recently had surgery or an injury that just wasn’t healing in a normal time frame? Smoking might be the culprit. Just about everyone on earth knows the affects of cigarette smoke and how it can cause certain ailments and diseases. An estimated 15.1 % of U.S. adults aged 18 years or older smoke cigarettes. More than 16 million Americans live with a smoking related disease (2). But do people know the affect cigarette smoke can have on the healing process in the body? What ways does it delay healing time and why it can take so much longer than most.
Deprives the body of Oxygen:
The air is filled with Oxygen and we breath it in all day long. Oxygen is needed for our body to function as well as heal tissue that is wounded. On a more scientific level, cigarette smoke causes many changes to the way our bodies handle oxygen. Hemoglobin is a molecule that transports oxygen throughout the body. Cigarette smoke affects it’s ability to carry the amount it normally needs to carry at one time. The blood vessels in the body also become more narrow not allowing the oxygen and hemoglobin to get to your healing tissue.(1)
Cigarette smoke thickens your blood as well. This makes it more difficult for the blood to run smoother throughout our bodies. Just think of it this way, you have car carrier ( Hemoglobin) carrying 8 cars (oxygen) a piece on a 4 lane highway (artery/veins) at an average speed of 65 MPH. Now it starts to snow (chemicals in cigarettes) and those car carriers can’t go through the storm so you have to get a tow truck that carries 2 cars a piece now. Your speed has now decreased to 45 MPH. Less cars will get to the dealership (healing tissue) and it will take twice as long to get there. With a decreased amount of oxygen, the tissues have a difficult time healing in the allotted time.
Weakens the Immune system:
In addition, cigarette smoke has been shown to make it more difficult for the body to fight off infection after surgery. The chemicals in cigarettes prevent neutrophils, infection fighting cells, from working properly. Neutrophils are our guards that create a safe environment by getting rid of things that don’t belong in our body, such as bacteria. This in turn causes a greater risk to develop infection.(2)
There is some good news from all of this though. Research has shown that quitting smoking before surgery reduces your risk of complications. It is very difficult to stop smoking, but even a 4-6 week period shows a dramatic decrease in risk factors. Now you might say what if I had a fracture and needed surgery immediately? I don’t have time to quit. Quitting for 4-8 weeks while your fracture is healing has also shown great benefits in the healing process.
Quitting smoking or any nicotine product is a very difficult process. I know from experience. I chewed snuff for 14 years. I tried to quit on multiple occasions and nothing seemed to work, but then my son was born! I made a promise to myself that I would quit for him and for my family. 9 years later I don’t even miss it! In fact it kind of makes me sick to even smell it. Sometimes the big picture just makes sense.
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