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Opioid or narcotic drug abuse can lead to a variety of complications. Intravenous drug use, in particular, can significantly impact the skin, both at the injection site and in general. Skin disease and death can occur, and often do, as a result of intravenous drug use. Illicit drugs that are usually injected or used intravenously include heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. Of the many side effects these substances can produce, swollen hands seem to be an oddly common one. Many people have wondered, “Why do drug addicts have swollen hands?” Is this a common thing? Our rehab in Boston is diving into this topic to find out the connection between puffy hand syndrome and drug abuse.
Also known as swollen hand syndrome, puffy-hand syndrome is a condition that develops after long-term intravenous drug use. Puffy hand syndrome looks exactly like it sounds. People with this condition will have swollen fingers and hands from the tips of their fingers to their wrists. Not only can this condition occur during active drug use, but years after the person has quit drug use, as well. According to research, puffy-hand syndrome is caused by lymphatic obstruction, which is when lymph vessels that drain fluid from tissues in our body are blocked.
When it comes to puffy-hand syndrome and drug abuse, repeated intravenous use or injection of drugs in or outside the veins destroys the lymphatics in the hands, preventing them from draining, which causes swelling. Puffy-hand syndrome affects 7% to 16% of intravenous drug users. Major risk factors for this condition include injecting drugs at the hands and feet. This syndrome usually begins during or following a long period of intravenous drug addiction with occasional periods of painless edema or swelling in the feet and legs.1 If you’re using drugs intravenously or have a history of it, you should seek medical heroin addiction treatment immediately to recover and prevent the condition from becoming permanent.
Often, puffy-hand syndrome does not go away, usually becoming permanent after several months of evolution between intravenous drug use and intermittent painless edema. Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment available for puffy-hand syndrome. While lymphedema treatment like low-stretch bandaging and wearing an elastic garment can help, this condition usually becomes permanent. Once puffy-hand syndrome becomes permanent, additional side effects like slight pitting (creation of small holes in the skin), puffiness, and thickness may occur in the back of the hand and fingers.
Intravenous drug use is notorious for causing a variety of skin diseases. Not only can this have a severe and permanent effect on your appearance, but also on your overall well-being. Drug use can also affect other areas, including your mental health, career, finances, and relationships. If you or someone you know is addicted to drugs or alcohol, we can help. Call Banyan Treatment Centers Massachusetts today at 888-280-4763 to learn more about our drug treatment in Boston.