Smoking causes peripheral arterial disease, or PAD. A plaque substance builds up in your arteries, often affecting the arteries that run down the length of the legs to the feet. It becomes difficult for blood to reach the feet as the arteries become stiff and narrow. Leg pain and wounds are symptoms that are slow to heal, but in many cases, PAD doesn’t alert the sufferer with signs or symptoms. Being overweight can also cause problems. Overweight and obese people may experience problems with the weight-bearing parts of the foot. As more weight is forced upon the feet, the muscles, tendons and ligaments holding up the arch become stressed and weakened. In time, if these structures are not protected, they will allow the bones and joints of the feet to shift and collapse. This causes the arch to become painful and even flat. This will lead to pain not only in the feet and ankles, but will also be painful for the shins, knees, hips and lower back. An adult who has a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight according to the Center for Disease Control. Being obese is defined as a body mass index of 30 or more. Beyond the foot pain caused by being overweight, obesity is also associated with diabetes. This disease by itself causes a myriad of other foot problems as well. Working with a nutritionist or physician who specializes in medical nutrition and fitness to create a healthy diet and help you develop an exercise plan can help to maintain a healthy weight.
Dr. Kevin D. Smith, Doctor of Podiatric Medicine