What are the effects of smoking on your feet?

We all know the harmful effects that smoking has on the heart or lungs. And smokers have long been aware of the many dangers of smoking to their health. 

However, it is too often forgotten that the harmful products contained in cigarette smoke can also affect the health of the feet. This is a little-known fact that many podiatrists are all too familiar with! 

Learn all about the adverse effects of smoking on the health of your feet and why your podiatrist recommends that you quit for good!

1. Smoking interferes with proper blood circulation.

There is evidence to prove that smoking can cause irritation of the blood vessels and, at the same time, prevent blood from flowing properly through your body. 

The result: your tissues are less well oxygenated and it is harder for blood to get to the extremities of your body (i.e. your feet!). 

This lack of oxygen can cause many undesirable effects and pathologies, which require a quick visit to a podiatrist: 

Arteritis of the legs;

Muscle cramps;

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD);

Swelling of the feet;  Inflammation of the feet.

2. Cigarette smoking slows healing of your feet  

Many podiatrists have found that their patients who smoke heal more slowly after foot surgery than their non-smoking patients. 

This is not surprising since, as mentioned above, smoking slows down the blood flow in your body. 

This makes it harder for the blood nutrients and elements responsible for your healing process to reach your lower limbs. As a result, post-operative healing or the healing of certain lesions and injuries can be affected. 

Smokers are at greater risk of having post-surgery complications or requiring a longer than average length of treatment. 

This is why your podiatrist recommends that you reduce your smoking as much as possible before, during and after your treatment.

3. Smoking can cause neuropathy

When we speak of “blood circulation problems,” we also speak of “nervous system problems.” 

Neuropathy is a problem affecting your motor and sensory nerves. Specifically, it is a lesion of your peripheral nerves. Diabetics are the people most affected by this condition, and tobacco smoke (even second-hand smoke) makes the situation worse. 

In fact, smoking exacerbates the harmful effects of diabetes, because this bad habit slows down the production of insulin in the body. Thus, the entire nervous system of diabetics is affected. Smoking thus opens the door to more microvascular deficiencies, which promotes the development of neuropathy. 

This type of lesion can cause: 

A feeling of tingling or numbness in the feet; 

Inflammation of the feet; 

Muscle cramps; 

Posture problems. 

If you are a smoker, it is important to monitor these effects, especially if you have diabetes! 

4. Smokers are more likely to get tendonitis or bursitis.

A study conducted by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS)  has clearly shown that smokers are 1.5 times more likely to suffer from Achilles tendonitis or heel bursitis during their lifetime.

In fact, elastin, a protein that gives your tissues their elasticity, is affected by cigarette smoke. 

In the long term, smoking can therefore reduce the extensibility of your tendons and ligaments. This makes it easier to be affected by overexertion injuries, especially for athletes. 

Tendinitis or bursitis can cause: 

Swelling or hypersensitivity of the tendon;

Redness or swelling in the heel;

Muscle stiffness; 

Skin lesions; 

Difficulty in walking. In some cases, this problem can also cause corns and calluses on the feet. If you experience these problems, don’t hesitate to consult your podiatrist!

PiedRéseau, podiatrists who adapt to the reality of smokers

Quitting smoking is very difficult. We know that. Fortunately, PiedRéseau’s podiatrists know how to treat foot pain and other pathologies among smokers.

More than forty PiedRéseau clinics across Quebec are at your disposal to ensure your comfort and the good health of your feet. 

Find the clinic nearest you to benefit from personalized treatment adapted to your specific situation.