MONDAY, Nov. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Injured joints may be even slower to heal in smokers, a new study shows.
Cigarette smoke held back the recovery of fractures and ligament injuries in mice, according to two studies in the December issue of the Journal of Orthopaedic Research.
In the first study, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis looked at fracture healing in a group of mice exposed to cigarette smoke 6 days a week for a month. There was also a control group of mice that weren't exposed to smoke.
The researchers found that fracture healing was delayed in the smoke-exposed mice. This delay was noted in the early stages of healing and was caused by cigarette smoke's hindrance of the development of mature cartilage cells.
While the study showed an association between cigarette smoke and cartilage formation, the researchers said it's likely that smoking has other effects on fracture healing and that these need to be examined in future studies.
"Clinically, if specific events can be identified, smoking cessation in humans, even temporarily, may improve or speed the healing process after injury and decrease the significant morbidity associated with cigarette smoking during fracture healing," the study authors wrote.
A second study by the same group of researchers found that exposure to cigarette smoke slowed the healing of medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury in mice.
The studies add to previous research that found that cigarette smoke can affect recovery from fractures and ligament injuries. It's also been shown that smokers have higher rates of hip fracture, fracture healing problems and bone infection. In addition, smoking interferes with the healing of soft tissue wounds.
The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has more about smoking and bone health.
-- Robert Preidt
SOURCE: John Wiley & Sons Inc., news release, Nov. 6, 2006
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