Thursday, September 25, 2014

Can Smoking Cigarettes Cause Foot Pain?

By Dr. Adam Thomas

The answer is to this topic is yes, indirectly. Smoking is well known as a contributing factor to health issues. With respect to the feet and lower extremities, years of smoking can not only lead to the more common issues of breathing complications such as emphysema, COPD and lung cancer, but it can lead to cardiovascular issues and artery disease. The effects of years of smoking can lead to narrowing of the arteries due to the chemicals causing constriction of the arteries repeatedly. If this is combined in an individual more prone to high cholesterol, this can be a very bad mix. The arteries, therefore, can become blocked with plaques. The complications of this most people are aware of is the fact that it can lead to heart disease, CAD (Coronary Artery Disease) and eventually open heart bypass surgery. 

What is less known is the fact that the blockages don’t just happen in one area such as the heart but all through the circulatory system. If the first areas becoming blocked are in the lower extremities, the first signs and symptoms may not be chest pain but rather pain in the legs or the feet. When it starts, it may manifest with simple cramping upon walking a certain distance before having to rest (claudication). This is due to the reduced blood flow getting to the feet and legs as the demand for oxygen goes up with exercise or walking. As the disease progresses, the distance an individual can walk shortens until the pain happens with both walking and resting (rest pain). Theses pains in the legs and feet can be signs of PAD or Peripheral Arterial Disease. 

Peripheral Arterial Disease

Often times in the podiatrist office, the early signs of this disease can be caught and treated before progression. Simple testing can be performed in office and if detected, appropriate referrals can be made to a specialist who treats this disease. Newer technologies are available with minimal invasive techniques to help improve blood flow to the legs and feet which will in turn reduce the pain, improve quality of life, and reduce the chances of amputation which can be a devastating end result of this disease.   

Community Foot Specialists - Podiatrists/Foot & Ankle Surgeons Serving Dayton and Springfield, Ohio Call today to schedule your appointment! (937) 426-9500

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