What is it?

Buerger's disease is a rare disease of the arteries and veins in the arms and legs. In Buerger's disease your blood vessels become inflamed, swell and can become blocked with blood clots (thrombi).
This eventually damages or destroys skin tissues and may lead to infection and gangrene. Buerger's disease usually first shows in your hands and feet and may eventually affect larger areas of your arms and legs

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Buerger's disease

Signs & symptoms

Buerger's disease symptoms include:
* Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet.
* Pale, reddish or blue-tinted hands or feet.
* Pain that may come and go in your legs and feet or in your arms and hands. This pain may occur when you use your hands or feet and eases when you stop that activity (claudication), or when you're at rest.
* Inflammation along a vein just below the skin's surface (due to a blood clot in the vein).
* Fingers and toes that turn pale when exposed to cold (Raynaud's phenomenon).
* Painful open sores on your fingers and toes.


While no tests can confirm whether you have Buerger's disease, your doctor will likely order tests to rule out other more common conditions or confirm suspicion of Buerger's disease brought on by your signs and symptoms. Tests may include:
* Blood tests
* The Allen's test- In the Allen's test, you make a tight fist, which forces the blood out of your hand. Your doctor presses on the arteries at each side of your wrist to slow the flow of blood back into your hand, making your hand lose its normal color.
Next, you open your hand and your doctor releases the pressure on one artery, then the other. How quickly the color returns to your hand may give a general indication about the health of your arteries. Slow blood flow into your hand may indicate a problem, such as Buerger's disease.
* Angiogram- An angiogram helps to see the condition of your arteries. An angiogram can be done non-invasively with the use of CT or MRI scans. Or it may be done by threading a catheter into an artery. During this procedure, a special dye is injected into the artery, after which you undergo a series of rapid X-rays. The dye helps make any artery blockages easier to see on the images. Your doctor may order angiograms of both your arms and your legs- even if you don't have signs and symptoms of Buerger's disease in all of your limbs. Buerger's disease almost always affects more than one limb, so even though you may not have signs and symptoms in your other limbs, this test may detect early signs of vessel damage.


* Smoking cessation- Although no treatment can cure Buerger's disease, the most effective way to stop the disease from getting worse is to quit using all tobacco products. Even a few cigarettes a day can worsen the disease. Your doctor can counsel you and recommend medications to help you stop smoking and stop the swelling in your blood vessels. You'll need to avoid nicotine replacement products because they supply nicotine, which activates Buerger's disease. There are non-nicotine products that you can use.
Another option is a residential smoking cessation program. In these programs, you stay at a treatment facility, sometimes a hospital, for a set number of days or weeks. During that time you participate in daily counseling sessions and other activities to help you deal with the cravings for cigarettes and to help you learn to live tobacco-free.

Other treatments
Other treatment approaches exist for Buerger's disease, but are less effective than quitting smoking. Options include:
* Medications to dilate blood vessels, improve blood flow or dissolve blood clots
* Intermittent compression of the arms and legs to increase blood flow to your extremities
* Spinal cord stimulation
* Amputation, if infection or gangrene occurs

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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