Buerger’s Disease or thromboangiitis obliterans is a rare type of vascular disease that affects the arteries and veins in the arms and legs. A person with symptoms of Buerger’s Disease will experience inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels, causing blood to clot.
When blood flow becomes blocked and clots, the blood supply to the fingers and toes is disrupted. As a result, your fingers and toes will feel sore, even when you are resting.
Usually, symptoms of Buerger’s Disease will first appear on the hands and feet. In some cases, the symptoms may even spread to the arms and other parts of the legs.
In cases of severe Buerger’s Disease, sufferers may have to undergo treatment through amputation surgery.
Even though it is a rare disease, Buerger’s Disease affects patients from all walks of life around the world. Generally, people in the age group of 40-45 years have a greater potential for developing this condition, especially heavy smokers.
Causes of Buerger’s Disease
There has been no research to identify the exact causes of Buerger’s Disease.
However, based on statistics, Buerger’s Disease mostly affects people with smoking habits or who have the habit of consuming large amounts of tobacco, including chewing tobacco. Passive smokers too have potential to contract this disease.
Although tobacco is believed to be the main factor of Buerger’s Disease, experts are still unable to pinpoint how the symptoms occur.
Some experts also suspect a correlation between Buerger’s Disease and autoimmune diseases. Apart from that, it is also possible that this is a genetic disease.
When to See a Doctor for Buerger’s Disease?
Patients diagnosed with Buerger’s Disease can consult with a vascular specialist doctor. If the general practitioner suspects a possible disease or abnormality in the blood vessels, the patient will be referred to a specialist doctor.
Diagnosis of Buerger’s Disease is included in the category of clinical examination, which means there is no specific series of tests required to determine whether a person has symptoms of the disease.
That said, there are many other diseases that have similar characteristics and symptoms to Buerger’s Disease. The doctor may run a number of tests to rule out the possibility of other diseases.
One of the tests performed is blood tests, to ensure you are not experiencing lupus, diabetes, or other vascular diseases. In addition, the doctor may also order ultrasound scans and an angiogram.
Another test may include the Allen test, which is a test to check blood flow to the patient’s hand. A positive test result can help the doctor to confirm that the patient indeed has Buerger’s Disease.
Symptoms of Buerger’s Disease
Symptoms of Buerger’s Disease generally begin with swelling and blood clots in the blood vessels. As a result, you may feel pain in your hands or feet, which makes you unable to move your hands and feet smoothly.
The common symptoms of Buerger’s Disease are:
- Inflamed veins.
- Hands or feet turning red/blue.
- Open sores on toes or fingers.
- Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet.
- Toes and fingers turning pale when in cold places.
- Pain that comes and goes suddenly in the hands and feet or spread to the arms and other parts of the legs.
Treatment for Buerger’s Disease
There is no cure for Buerger’s Disease. However, there are treatments doctors can do to prevent the patient’s condition from worsening – one of which is by recommending the patient to quit smoking. Doctors also recommend that patients stay away from places with cold temperatures.
To aid the patient in his/her quest to stop smoking, the doctor may prescribe nicotine-free medications as a substitute for tobacco consumption.
Some patients manage to break their habit of consuming tobacco by exercising regularly and increasing their consumption of mineral water. Patients can also consult a doctor to get treatment from a special care center to control their tobacco consumption.
To stop the smoking habit, the doctor will also prescribe other medicines for patients to consume. The medications include:
- Spinal cord stimulants.
- Arm or leg compression — to increase blood flow in the body.
- Vasodilators medications — to help smoothen blood flow and prevent blood clots.
For people with severe Buerger’s Disease, the doctor may perform further treatment such as:
- Consumption of stimulant medications to grow new blood vessel tissue.
- Endovascular therapy by inserting a catheter or small tube into the blood vessel to open and restore blood flow in the blood vessel.
- Neurosurgery procedure, which is performed by cutting the nerves around the affected blood vessels. This is done to relieve the pain.
In severe cases of Buerger’s Disease, there may be potential for the patient to undergo amputation surgery.
Treatment Cost for Buerger’s Disease
The cost for Buerger’s Disease treatment varies, depending on the patient’s condition, the affected blood vessels, as well as the symptoms experienced.
For more information regarding the estimated costs of Buerger’s Disease treatment, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Buerger’s Disease
Smoking or the habit of consuming tobacco products is believed to be the main factor causing symptoms of Buerger’s Disease. For this reason, quitting tobacco is the most effective way to prevent yourself from getting Buerger’s Disease.
Unlike other types of diseases, Buerger’s Disease is a rare type of disease that cannot be prevented through vaccination. The most effective preventive measure is by modifying your lifestyle – live healthier by quitting smoking, exercising regularly, and eating healthy.
Home Remedies for Patients Diagnosed with Buerger’s Disease
There are several treatments that Buerger’s Disease patients can do at home, including:
- Regular exercise. This can be done at least 30 minutes a day. Choose light exercise activities, such as walking, running, or jogging.
- Skin care treatment. Especially on the fingers, arms, or other parts of the feet affected by the symptoms of Buerger’s Disease. Treatment can be done by wearing protection around the affected part of the skin to avoid tingling, numbness, or even injury.
- Apart from quitting smoking, it is also recommended to avoid cigarette smoke from other people. Passive smokers have the same potential to develop Buerger’s Disease.