There are many things in the world that anyone should be afraid of, and nothing presents a more grave threat than smoking. As one of the unhealthiest habits in the world, cigarette smoking is a prevalent problem that kills hundreds of thousands of Americans each year. For anyone that’s either hooked on the habit, it’s common knowledge that this particular “pastime” can be incredible to the heart and lungs.
After the U.S. Surgeon General released the landmark report linking tobacco use and lung cancer and cardiovascular disease in 1964, healthcare professionals have campaigned against smoking to the best of their abilities. Thankfully, these efforts have resulted in many more people becoming aware of the risks that come with smoking.
Smoking can do serious damage to your body because of all the chemicals it contains, especially in those who do it frequently. However, did you know that this bad habit also has an impact on the hands?
What Are the Effects of Smoking?
Here’s something you probably never heard of: the harmful effects of tobacco smoking don’t only affect the cardiopulmonary and respiratory systems; they affect the hand and musculoskeletal systems, too.
You might not feel it now, but every stick you smoke greatly affects the bones, joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the body and puts them at greater risk of complications down the line. Unfortunately, very few smokers are aware of this and only keep the more commonly known effects in mind.
Why Is Smoking So Bad for the Hands and Wrists?
The main parts of a cigarette that are harmful to the human body are the chemicals found in it. Together, nicotine and other toxins in tobacco smoke contribute to the constriction of the body’s blood vessels and decrease blood flow to all affected areas—this includes the hands and the wrists.
Like all organs and systems, hands and wrists require adequate blood flow, oxygen, and nutrition to remain alive and healthy while functioning as they should. Unfortunately, smoking prevents this from happening as it significantly hinders blood flow. Then, your hands and wrists end up being subject to various potential threats that can put your health and quality of life at risk.
Here are some medical facts to back this up:
- People who smoke tobacco have an increased risk of fracture due to decreased bone mineral density or osteoporosis. This causes problems such as broken bones in the wrist, hip, and spine to occur more frequently as compared to non-smokers.
- Smokers, more often than not, can take twice as long or longer to heal their fractures. This is mainly attributed to the fact that constriction in blood flow leads to prolonged healing, resulting in painful “non-union” healing patterns. In the wrist, this is particularly problematic as fractures do not heal without surgery.
- Smoking poses a higher risk of Dupuytren’s contracture in the hands, rotator cuff tears in the shoulder, and lumbar spine disc herniation in the back.
Whether you view smoking as a habit, a way to look cool, or a form of fun that you can enjoy daily, it’s vital to prioritize your health and consider how you’re putting your body at risk—even more so in the case of your hands and wrists. If you’re keen on turning a new leaf and ensuring that your body stays in tip-top shape, take this as a sign to slowly start cutting your habit off one day at a time!
North Florida Hand and Wrist is a team of hand specialists in Jacksonville, Florida that treats cases of Dupuytren’s contracture, carpal tunnel, cubital tunnel syndrome, and ganglion cysts. We are a state-of-the-art surgical facility staffed by a team of dedicated practitioners whose primary goal is to ease any hand or wrist discomfort you may experience. Schedule an appointment with our expert physicians today!