So, just what is the connection between smoking cigarettes and peripheral neuropathy?
First, it is important to understand just what peripheral neuropathy is and what causes it. The easiest way to describe peripheral neuropathy is to say that it is the lack of communication that occurs when there is damage to the nervous system. We all know that the brain is responsible for sending communication to the various parts of our body via the nervous system. When damage occurs, the communication cannot get through, as it should. This leads to problems.
A communication breakdown between the brain and the rest of the body can lead to discomforting and strange symptoms, such as sharp tingling in the legs and feet or a feeling of numbness. It also prevents the nerves in our extremities from sending the right message back to the brain. So, for example, when you get a small cut on the bottom of your foot, your nervous system has no way of letting your brain know. This might lead to the cut becoming infected, causing much more serious and long-term damage.
Smoking and peripheral neuropathy only makes things worse. Smoking restricts blood flow to the microscopic nerve cells that should be communicating with the brain. By continuing to smoke, you are making the situation worse over time.
Additionally, smoking has an adverse effect on your blood sugar levels, which can lead to the development of diabetes. People with diabetes are highly likely to develop peripheral neuropathy at some point in their lives. In fact, reports show that people who have diabetes and smoke are 3 times more likely to develop PN than those who do not smoke.
There has not yet been a cure for peripheral neuropathy, but therapies and strategies to control it have come a long way. Unfortunately, these therapies will not do much good if a person with diabetes and/or peripheral neuropathy continues to smoke.
We understand that to quit smoking once it has become a habit can be very difficult. You may need to seek additional medical advice or help to overcome this habit.
In the meantime, if you have any other questions about peripheral neuropathy and the role smoking plays, please give Arrowhead Health Centers a call today at 623-334-4000, option 9. We can discuss other peripheral neuropathy treatments and therapies we offer and help you find the best way to manage your symptoms.