Buerger's disease is caused by vasculitis, which is an inflammation of blood vessels. Inflammation is irritation with presence of extra immune cells.
The blood vessels of the hands and feet are especially affected, becoming constricted or totally blocked. This reduces blood flow to the tissues of hands and feet, resulting in pain and eventually damage. Smoking worsens the symptoms and the disease process.
What are its symptoms?
Cited below are the symptoms of thromboangiitis obliterans or buerger’s disease:-
Pain, burning, tingling sensation in the hands and feet
Pain in the legs, ankles, or feet when walking (intermittent claudication)
Skin changes or ulcers on hands or feet
Hands or feet may be pale, red, or bluish
Hands or feet may feel cold
The symptoms may worsen with exposure to cold or with emotional stress. Usually, two or more limbs are affected.
How is it diagnosed?
The hands or feet may show enlarged, red, tender blood vessels. Pulse may be decreased or absent in the affected extremity.
Blockage of blood vessels in the extremity may show on:
An angiography/arteriography of the extremity
A Doppler ultrasound of the extremity
Final confirmation of the diagnosis may require biopsy of the blood vessel.
How can it be treated?
There is no cure for thromboangiitis obliterans. The aim is to control symptoms. The patient must stop smoking. Cold temperatures and other conditions that reduce circulation to the extremities should be avoided. Attempts to increase circulation may include applying warmth and gently exercising the affected area.
Surgical sympathectomy (cutting the nerves to the area) may help control pain. Amputation of the extremity may be necessary if infection or extensive tissue death occurs.
How can it be prevented?
Those with a history of Raynaud's disease or thromboangiitis obliterans should avoid all tobacco use.
A doctor should be consulted if symptoms indicate thromboangiitis obliterans is present, if symptoms worsen despite treatment, or if new symptoms develop.
What is Buerger’s disease?
Buerger’s disease is a disease that causes obstruction of the blood vessels of the hands and feet.