The Great American Smokeout: Your Feet and Smoking


On November 16, we observe the Great American Smokeout, a campaign encouraging smokers to quit and improve their health. In today’s post, Dr. Eric Ricefield, Dr. Mark Yagodich, Dr. Aliza V. Eisen, and Cassandra Stache, DPM of greater Philadelphia’s Your Next Step Foot and Ankle Care Center share information regarding smoking-related foot conditions. Be sure to share this post with any loved ones who may struggle with this addiction.

Smoking restricts blood flow through your veins and arteries in two main ways:

  1. First, tobacco products typically contain nicotine, which is highly addictive. It has been shown to tighten your blood vessels, which decreases blood flow and limits the amount of blood they can carry. Eventually, this can make them stiffer and cause the heart to work harder to circulate the blood.
  2. Second, the chemicals found in cigarettes can weaken the cells on the interior of the blood vessels, which makes it easier for fatty plaque deposits to accumulate and restrict blood flow even more.

Smoking has also been known to hinder bone growth, which means you’re more likely to have weaker bones, which can cause more frequent breaks and fractures with a longer healing time.

Treatment Options

The best thing you can do to stop or slow down any of these conditions completely is to quit smoking. Treatment varies for each smoking-related condition, but in most cases, there’s no cure.

Your doctor may recommend the following to help relieve symptoms:

  • Keeping your feet warm in cold weather.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Take calcium supplements.
  • Take medication to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol.

3 Frequently Asked Questions About Smoking and Your Feet:

  1. Can using vapes and e-cigarettes also damage my feet? Yes, nicotine is responsible for many smoking-related foot conditions. If you’re using an e-cigarette or vape that contains nicotine, you’re at risk for developing these conditions.
  2. How long will it take for blood circulation to improve after stopping smoking? It has been shown to recover anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks after quitting smoking and lead to healthier legs and feet.
  3. Does gangrene always result in amputation? If it’s caught early enough, gangrene doesn’t always result in amputation. But, if left untreated and the infection begins to spread, amputation may be required to save your life.

Quitting smoking certainly isn’t easy. It takes time and a comprehensive plan, beginning with day one. Let November 16 be the day you begin your journey toward a healthier, smoke-free life. The American Cancer Society can provide the support and resources you need to quit.

If you’re experiencing chronic foot pain or other issues with your feet, contact Greater Philadelphia’s Your Next Step Foot and Ankle Care Center. Click here to locate the office nearest you to book your appointment.

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