Buerger’s disease is a rare disorder causing pain in fingers and toes. Blood vessels develop inflammation due to blockage in certain areas of hands and feet restricting the blood flow. In severe cases it may lead to tissue death or necrosis warranting to remove the dead tissue surgically. Buerger’s disease can occur to anyone but people who are using tobacco or its products are at high risk. It is largely seen in Asian and Middle East people. There is no treatment for this disease but the symptoms can be managed by giving medications to improve blood flow.
Buerger’s disease also known as thromboangiitis obliterans is a rare phenomenon in which the blood vessels get inflamed due to blood clots and subsequent blockage. It often targets your hands and feet affecting blood vessels causing pain. If left untreated it can gradually damage the tissue inside causing death. Exact cause of this disease is not known.
Buerger’s Disease Causes :
- Buerger’s disease is believed to occur due to excess consumption of tobacco and its products. But what exactly causes this disease is yet a mystery. Smoking and chewing tobacco is believed to be the cause of this disease.
- Scientists believe that some people develop this disease due to genetic predisposition which is beyond our control. There are chances that the body’s immune system would by mistake attack and destroy the artery causing inflammation and pain.
- Buerger’s disease develops due to swelling of arteries and formation of blood clots in the blood vessel. Normal blood flow is affected in the area of swelling causing immense pain. In due course, the underlying tissue would die due to lack of blood supply leading to gangrene.
- Scientists are still researching how tobacco usage increases the risk of Buerger’s disease. As per the data given by the Mayo Clinic, every person diagnosed with this disease is either smoker or tobacco user.
Buerger’s Disease Symptoms :
- Initial symptoms of Buerger’s disease are pain in the arms and legs. It would cause weakness in certain body parts but largely hands and feet are affected.
- Open sores are formed on the fingers and toes. The arteries underlying these areas get inflamed due to block of blood flow. Due to lack of proper nutrients and oxygen the fingers and toes become weak causing pain.
- For some people the toes and fingers would become pale indicating lack of blood. There would be immense pain during cold weather.
Buerger’s Disease Tests :
No specific test is available for diagnosing Buerger’s disease. Based on symptoms your doctor may request for a complete blood profile and test for diabetes to rule out any possibilities. Angiogram would be done to check any swelling or blood clot in the major artery of your heart. Allen test can be done by applying pressure on the inflamed artery of your hand. You will be asked to hold your fist very tightly for a while and open it after releasing the pressure. Your doctor would check for any pale color of the hand which indicates blood clot signifying Buerger’s disease.
Buerger’s Disease Treatment :
- Symptoms like swelling of fingers and pain can be treated with medications. You will be given medications to prevent blood clot and drugs for improving blood circulation.
- For people who are smoking and using tobacco in any form, instructions will be given to quit this habit.
- In severe cases of tissue death or gangrene the affected nerve would be amputed from the remaining portion.
- For some people the affected nerve that indicates pain will be surgically removed so that pain will not be felt anymore.
- Doing regular exercises can certainly help in improving blood circulation.
Tips For Prevention :
There is no way to prevent Buerger’s disease directly. But you can always quit smoking and chewing tobacco to reduce the risk of getting this disease. Most of the symptoms would disappear if you simply quit smoking or using tobacco products.
Who Are At Risk ?
- Smokers and tobacco users are at increased risk of Buerger’s disease.
- People who are regularly using tobacco in any form are at risk of developing this disease.
- Secondhand smokers can also get this disease by accidentally inhaling the smoke.
- People living in Middle East regions and Asian countries are at risk of Buerger’s disease.
- People who are having gum problems for long period have increased chance for getting this disease.
- Being a male rather than female increases the risk of Buerger’s disease.
In severe cases, tissue death can occur in the affected area, when the blood supply is cut off for prolonged period. Without receiving essential nutrients and oxygen the tissue may eventually die leading to blue coloration of the finger or toes and complete loss of feeling in the affected part. Gangrene or tissue death has to be attended immediately and requires amputation to prevent further loss.
Buerger’s Disease Home Remedies :
- If you are diagnosed with Buerger’s disease pay close attention to your fingers and toes.
- Take care of your extremities by wearing protective gloves or socks. Check your legs and arms daily to notice any change in color of the skin and loss of feeling.
- People living in cold countries should take enough care to protect their fingers and toes from cold weather by wearing suitable clothing.
- If the blood flow is reduced to the affected part it is prone to infection easily. Hence if there is any bruise or cut in the fingers or toes wash the area with mild soap water properly and apply antibiotic ointment. Check with your doctor promptly if the condition does not improve within a day or two.