How a bad habit can ruin foot health

Are you a smoker? You are Putting Your Feet at Risk! 

The damage done to the heart and lungs of a smoker is undeniable. Are you aware though, of the damage smoking can do to your feet? Dr. Harvey Danciger is a foot and ankle specialist dedicated to educating patients about foot care. The effects that smoking can have on feet are often not known or taken too lightly. 

Your feet are a long way from your heart and don’t get as much circulation as the rest of your body. For a person of normal health, this isn’t usually a problem. If you smoke though, this very important bodily function becomes compromised resulting in what could be serious health concerns. 

PAD and Osteoporosis

The carbon monoxide, nicotine, tar and other toxins in cigarettes narrow blood vessels and increase the risk for plaque to build up. This condition of narrowing arteries is called Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) and significantly decreases how much blood can circulate to your legs and feet. People who smoke increase their risk of having PAD by 4 times. The chemicals in cigarettes also alter the absorption of oxygen, which is needed to keep your skin healthy and allow for wounds to heal quickly.

Osteoporosis develops when there is a decrease in bone density. The span between childhood and thirty years of age is the prime time for developing bone mass. Specialists in osteoporosis have found that smoking during this time decreases the amount of bone mass. For those of you in your 40’s or 50’s, smoking can accelerate your loss of bone mass as well. 

Our bones need a good balance of hormones to stay strong. The toxins in cigarettes increase the levels of hormones that break down bone mass and decrease levels of hormones that help build bones. 

How Smoking Will Affect Your Feet 

  • The reduced blood flow from PAD could cause pain in your calves and feet and limit walking to short distances.
  • Less circulation may cause legs and feet to be cold and change color.
  • Nails may become brittle and skin dry and flaky.
  • Lack of circulation may cause ulcers as smoking greatly compromises the ability of your body to heal quickly.
  • Loss of bone mass from smoking increases your risk for fractures and slows down healing of fractures.
  • Damage to nerves in toes and feet from smoking can increase risk of falls and fractures. 

The health of your feet is of utmost importance.  To learn more about Peripheral Arterial Disease, call today and talk with Dr. Danciger. If your foot health has been compromised due to a smoking habit and you would like to set up an appointment for treatment, please contact our Palm Desert, CA office (760) 568-0108. 

Dr. Harvey Danciger
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Dr. Harvey Danciger is a podiatrist and foot surgeon in Palm Desert, CA specializing in the foot and ankle