What is Buerger’s disease?
Buerger’s disease, also known as thromboangiitis obliterans, is a disease of the arteries and veins in the arms and legs. Inflammation occurs in the vessels, leading to blood clots and swelling.
As time passes infections, gangrene, and destruction of the skin may occur. This disease is almost always linked to tobacco, whether that is smoking or chewing.
What are the symptoms of Buerger’s disease?
The symptoms of this condition are:
- Tingling and/or numbness in the hands and feet
- Discoloration in the hands and feet
- Pain in the hands and feet that may stop when resting
- Inflammation of the veins just under the surface of the skin
- Raynaud’s phenomenon
- Open sores on the fingers and toes
There are also complications that may arise due to this condition. As it progresses, blood flow may be blocked. Gangrene will happen, usually in the fingers and toes. This requires amputation of the affected body part most of the time.
What causes Buerger’s disease?
The exact cause of this disease is unknown. It is clearly linked to tobacco, but medical professionals are unsure as to how it leads to inflammation and blockage. There are suspicions that some are genetically predisposed to this disease or an autoimmune response causes the body to attack its own healthy tissue.
There are multiple risk factors that could heighten the chance of developing Buerger’s disease. Using tobacco in any form is a major risk, as is chronic gum disease. Males under the age of 45 also have a heightened risk of this condition.
How is Buerger’s disease diagnosed?
There is no specific test for Buerger’s disease, but doctors may use multiple methods to rule out other conditions. Blood tests, angiograms, and the Allen’s test are all used to find a diagnosis.
What are the treatments of Buerger’s disease?
There is a way to prevent this disease: stop using any form of tobacco. If one is already diagnosed, this is the best form of treatment as well.
Other forms of medications exist, but they are not as effective. Doctors may prescribe medications to treat the clogged blood vessels, compression of the arms and legs to promote blood flow, stimulation of the spinal cord, and amputation if the condition is serious enough.