Cold Feet Might Not Be the Weather

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Cold feet of a smokerIn places like Colorado, getting literally cold feet periodically isn’t all that unusual. In fact, depending on the season, icy toes are more common than not. Snow doesn’t have to be blowing off the mountains or across the plains for your toes to feel cold, though. Believe it or not, some conditions can leave you struggling with cold feet even in warmer weather. Buerger’s disease from smoking is one example that can leave your feet feeling icy—or worse, can cause permanent tissue damage.

Buerger’s disease is a problem that sharply limits circulation to the extremities. This happens when the lining in your blood vessels swells and restricts blood flow. No one is entirely sure what causes the condition, but the connection between it and smoking is very clear. Nearly all people diagnosed with the disease smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products.

Interestingly enough, unlike other vascular diseases, the condition won’t affect your internal organs—but the damage to your toes can be quite severe. The decreased blood flow is most obvious when you’re active. You may develop pain in your feet when you exercise that can radiate toward the rest of your body. Eventually you may notice pain even when you’re resting.

Numbness and tingling are common symptoms as well. The most serious complication, however, is the high chance for ulcers and even gangrene. Poor circulation means your feet won’t heal small injuries very well, and instead allow them to deteriorate into ulcers. Gangrene is actually the result of tissue in your feet and toes dying from a lack of blood flow. Both of these complications can lead to an amputation.

There’s only one cure for this type of cold feet: quitting tobacco completely. Unfortunately, there’s no medication or other treatment that has been effective. Quitting all tobacco use allows your blood vessels to heal over time and repair the tissue damage, though extreme cases may still need surgery.

At Podiatry Associates, P.C., we recognize that it’s hard to quit smoking and take care of your feet. You don’t have to go it alone—and you’re more likely to be successful if you have support. Let our team help you. Make an appointment with us through our website. You can also call (303) 805-5156 to reach our offices in Parker, Castle Pines, and Cherry Creek in Denver.
Dr. Cynthia Oberholtzer-Classen, DPM
Founder and Owner of Podiatry Associates, PC
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