A Smoker's leg is also known as Intermittent claudication designated. They are colloquial terms for arterial occlusive disease and, as the name suggests, mostly occur in heavy smokers. Statistics show that one in ten men over 55 is affected by these diseases. But a smoker's leg can also be detected in more and more women.
Colloquially referred to as smoker's leg is a disease of the veins, which is called PAOD in technical terms. The disease is more common in heavy smokers.
At the Smoker's leg it is de facto a peripheral arterial disease of the pelvic or leg arteries. Since this is the second most common disease among smokers, it is also known colloquially as the smoker's leg. Another term is "intermittent claudication", as it is necessary to stop because of pain even after walking for a short time.
The smoker's leg, to stay with the term, is a lack of arterial blood flow in the extremities (in 90 percent of cases in the lower extremities, the legs) due to an occlusion of the aorta, the skin artery. Depending on the severity, those affected do not feel any discomfort or the symptoms are so severe that an amputation must be considered.
In almost all cases, arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, is the main cause Smoker's legbecause it leads to arterial constrictions. Inflammatory vascular diseases are more of a marginal phenomenon. The most important risk factors for the development of arteriosclerosis with the consequences mentioned are smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure or disorders of lipid metabolism. Inheritance, however, rarely plays a role.
Due to arterial occlusive diseases, certain regions of the body (such as the legs) are no longer adequately supplied with oxygen and nutrients. This causes feelings of pain or weakness, numbness or pale skin. In these cases the arteries are already 90 percent calcified. This is why the different perceptions of symptoms result, because often those affected do not notice their suffering - until simply walking becomes a source of pain.
The dangerous thing is that the arterial constriction can also affect the brain and heart. Strokes and heart attacks, which can lead to death, are therefore very common.
Colloquially referred to as smoker's leg is a disease of the veins, which is called PAOD in technical terms. The disease is more common in heavy smokers. The calcification of the arteries creates bottlenecks. The blood cannot flow freely and the tissue is no longer adequately supplied with oxygen.
The symptoms are divided into four stages by doctors. Pain in the affected limbs is a crucial sign of the disease. When constriction begins, there are no complaints. Initially, pain only becomes noticeable after walking longer than 200 meters.
If the disease progresses, the legs hurt even after short walking distances. In stage 3, the affected person's legs hurt even if they are not put under any weight. In the advanced stage, inflammation and ulcers indicate the beginning of tissue death. The stress pain that occurs when walking is often associated with intermittent claudication.
Those affected often have to stop, similar to window shopping. If the tissue dies, blackish patches of skin form and infections occur. Depending on the location of the constriction, numbness may occur in the limbs or buttocks. Likewise, the limbs feel cool below the bottleneck.
Depending on what stage it is in, a smoker's leg can cause a number of complications and long-term effects. First of all, intermittent claudication causes pain, which persists longer and longer as the disease progresses and eventually becomes chronic. From the second stage onwards, longer walking is no longer possible and the person affected can no longer cope with everyday tasks as before.
This usually also leads to psychological problems. As the disease progresses, there is tissue growth, inflammation and necrosis - the life expectancy of the person affected is reduced by up to ten years. In addition, deposits that have formed can loosen and close off vital blood vessels, which usually results in a stroke or heart attack.The coronary arteries and cerebral arteries are also affected by hardening of the arteries in the long term - here too, strokes and heart attacks are the result.
If the smoker's leg has to be amputated, this is often associated with circulatory disorders, delayed wound healing and phantom pain. Bad hygiene or inadequate aftercare can lead to inflammation, which is associated with further complications. Finally, the prescribed drugs also harbor various risks.
A doctor should always be consulted with a smoker's leg. This is the only way to prevent further complications and the complete death of the leg. This disease usually does not heal itself and in most cases there is a significant deterioration in the general condition of the patient. The doctor should be consulted on the smoker's leg if the person concerned suffers from heavily calcified arteries, which is expressed by a bluish coloration of the legs. Likewise, pain in the legs or other limbs can occur, which not only occurs when moving, but also in the form of pain at rest.
Furthermore, ulcers and other skin symptoms on the legs often point to the smoker's leg if the person concerned smokes frequently. In some cases, the patients experience numbness. As a rule, a general practitioner or an orthopedic surgeon can be seen on the smoker's leg. Whether treatment is possible cannot generally be predicted. However, the person concerned must stop smoking in any case to ensure healing.
Treatment of the Intermittent claudication aims to prevent the aggravation of the Smoker's legs to counteract amputations, strokes, heart attacks or death. The causes are addressed: It is urgently recommended to abstain from nicotine, an existing diabetes must be treated and the cholesterol values lowered.
In addition, consistent walking training is prescribed: This means walking regularly to the pain limit in order to push it further and further. Walking improves the blood circulation in the body and new capillaries and blood vessels are formed that can supply the affected leg again.
In addition, exercise has a positive effect on all other risk factors: on diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure and quality of life due to increasing painlessness. Walking is therefore one of the most important therapies. Medicinal or surgical treatment methods are also possible: for example, placing a bypass, medication to inhibit coagulation or vascular dilatation.
By avoiding nicotine and foods rich in fat or sugar, through consistent training and the treatment of previous illnesses such as high blood pressure, a Smoker's leg be improved or avoided in advance.
Regular exercise through endurance sports such as jogging, cycling or Nordic walking are one of the best means for health, as they have a positive effect on all other risk factors and also counteract obesity. If symptoms occur, those affected should go to a doctor immediately and point out a possible smoker's leg. The earlier treatment starts, the better the chances of recovery.
Follow-up care for the smoker's leg is aimed at preventing the condition from worsening and reducing pain. Depending on the stage of the disease, a variety of complications arise that require follow-up care in order not to become chronic. From the second stage onwards, it is difficult to walk for a long time. As a result, the person affected is so limited that he usually needs help in everyday life.
These limitations can lead to mental health problems that should be treated with psychotherapy to improve the mental state. It is critical to eliminate the root cause of the smoker's leg and lead a healthy lifestyle. Nicotine should be avoided completely. Furthermore, a healthy diet without fat and sugar should be followed.
It is used to lower cholesterol and treat existing diabetes. Regular endurance units, for example in the form of walking, jogging, cycling, are important to improve the overall blood circulation and reduce pain. In some cases, drug treatment with anticoagulant drugs may be appropriate. In some cases, operative measures such as a bypass are also necessary.
In severe cases, the smoker's leg must be amputated. Here, optimal hygiene and control must take place in the aftercare in order to reduce inflammation and complications. Furthermore, check-ups with the doctor are urgently recommended to check the course of the disease. Unfortunately, the prognosis for the smoker's leg is rather bad. Tissue growth, inflammation and necrosis reduce the life expectancy of the patient by up to ten years. The risk of dying from a stroke or heart attack increases.
This disease, also called arterial disease, is most common in smokers. In order to avoid amputation, the person concerned should absolutely give up smoking. If the smoker's leg is due to other causes, such as diabetes, a lipid metabolism disorder or high blood pressure, these underlying diseases must be treated with medication or better controlled.
Even if it hurts, a patient affected by a smoker's leg has to move around a lot. Daily walks to the limit of pain are a must. The distances that are covered should increase daily. As the legs move, blood circulation improves and new vessels are formed. Walking training is not only the most effective means of preventing an amputation, it also has a positive effect on the underlying diseases. With the increased blood flow in the legs, the pain also subsides, which significantly increases the quality of life. Going for a walk every day also helps to reduce excess weight. Too much weight puts unnecessary strain on the legs, so dieting is often advisable.
In any case, a smoker's leg patient should not only avoid nicotine, but also high-fat and sweet foods. This has a positive effect on the underlying diseases. The patient should also drink plenty of water to thin the blood. This prevents the formation of clots, which are a dreaded complication of smokers' legs.