A retrospective study: Does cigarette smoking induce cervical disc degeneration?

Int J Surg. 2018 May:53:269-273. doi: 10.1016/j.ijsu.2018.04.004. Epub 2018 Apr 9.


Objective: To investigate cigarette smoking's relevance with cervical disc degeneration.

Methods: We randomly selected 320 patients who came to our spine disease department outpatient clinic with chief complaint of neck-shoulder pain during June 2014-June 2016. According to the detailed smoking history, these patients were divided into 3 different groups, which were active smoker group (AS), passive smoking group (PS) and never-smoker group (NS). Each patient's Miyazaki's magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) classification of cervical disc degeneration was analyzed based on their cervical MRI films. In addition, VAS scores were applied to evaluate the degree of patients' neck-shoulder pain. With the help of statistical techniques, relevance between cigarette smoking, cervical disc degeneration and neck-shoulder pain were analyzed.

Results: In the NS group, the overall Miyazaki score, especially for C2/3, C3/4, C5,6 segments, are superior to those in the PS group, in addition, the Miyazaki scores for C1/2 - C6/7 segments in NS group beat the same segments in AS group with statistical significance (P < 0.05). In the AS and PS group, discs from C4/5 to C5/6 segments which score IV and V on Miyazaki classification account for a larger proportion than those discs from C1/2 to C3/4 segments with statistical significance (P < 0.05). In the AS group, male cases have larger proportion of Miyazaki level IV and V discs than female with statistical significance (P < 0.05). While in the AS and PS group, Miyazaki scores of patients whose smoking history ranges from 5 to 10 years are superior to those with smoking history longer than 10 years, with statistical significance (P < 0.05). In addition, VAS scores also vary among the three groups, in which, VAS scores in AS group are higher than those in the NS group.

Conclusion: Smoking could accelerate the process of cervical disc degeneration, presenting with more severe neck-shoulder pain on the patients. In addition, the impact of smoking on the lower cervical discs is greater than the upper cervical discs.

Keywords: Cervical disc degeneration; Cervical spondylosis; Neck and shoulder pain; Smoking.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cervical Vertebrae / pathology*
  • Cigarette Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc Degeneration / etiology*
  • Intervertebral Disc Degeneration / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck Pain / etiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Shoulder Pain / etiology