Due to the chemical nicotine – which is present in cigarettes, cigars and pipes – smoking can affect many parts of the body other than the lungs. This includes the hands and upper extremities. First, nicotine can make existing hand conditions worse. Two examples of this are:
- Broken bones: A broken bone (fracture) can have more trouble healing in people who smoke. If you break your hand, wrist or arm, the fracture may not even heal.
- Dupuytren’s Contracture: This is a common condition that causes fingers to permanently bend into the palm, making it impossible to straighten the fingers. It may be more common in smokers.
Second, nicotine can cause general problems that may affect the hands. These include:
- Reduced blood flow (this can affect your fingertips)
- Increased circulation problems
- Worsened nerve problems
Smoking can also impair skin wound healing. For example, if you have hand surgery, your body may have trouble recovering due to the smoking. If you are planning to have surgery, or if you are recovering from a trauma wound, disease or recent emergency surgery, you should stop smoking as soon as possible to allow your body to recover. If you need help quitting, talk to your hand surgeon about obtaining help.
Learn more about smoking and hand conditions.