Buerger’s Disease and Poor Circulation Connection

Buerger's Disease

Poor circulation can be caused by many things. It is often a result of an occupation that requires long periods of sitting or a sedentary lifestyle that is devoid of healthy amounts of cardiovascular activity. Some conditions can contribute to circulation problems as well such as carpal tunnel syndrome and Raynaud’s disease. And, there are more serious health conditions that can lend themselves to circulation problems too like atherosclerosis or peripheral artery disease, a common precursor. Sometimes, the source of circulation problems is unclear. But, in other cases, the source can be extremely evident, such as with Buerger’s disease.

Mayo Clinic explains that Buerger’s is a condition that is not often seen in the United States and is relatively rare. People who are affected share some commonalities such as where they live as many people with Buerger’s disease live in the Middle East. But, there is another common factor that is present in all sufferers of the condition, and that is tobacco use. While smoking has long been associated with being one of the common poor circulation causes, in Buerger’s, it is the exclusive cause of the condition. But, it is not just smoking in itself that can cause the disease. The use of chewing tobacco can also contribute to the development of the malady. Essentially, what happens in people with Buerger’s disease is the blood vessels become inflamed. This happens in the arms and in the legs. As this worsens, blood clots can develop.

The symptoms of Buerger’s disease are a direct result of poor blood circulation throughout the body. Typical complaints include color changes in the toes and fingers when exposed to cold temperatures and inflammation of the blood vessels. Sufferers also may experience claudication, according to Mayo Clinic, which is characterized by pain in the legs, feet, arms and hands. It is not uncommon for the majority of symptoms to be present in the lower extremities where circulation is already a challenge for the body due to the force of gravity and the task of getting blood back up to the heart from these lower areas. As a result, poor circulation in legs from Buerger’s can cause pain and discomfort in these areas.

Serious complications can occur as a result of Buerger’s disease. Most often, these are a result of blood clots or a vasospasm within the arteries. A vasospasm is a contraction of the blood vessels that cuts off blood flow to an area which can lead to tissue damage. And, these complications can result in the eventual loss of limbs through amputation for sufferers of the condition. When vasospasm or other complications cut off the supply of oxygen rich blood to the extremities, tissue death and necrosis can occur. Essentially, this is the onset of gangrene.

Unlike other causes of decreased circulatory function, the only effective way to stop the progression of Buerger’s disease is to immediately cease the use of tobacco products. While other forms of blood flow problems can be managed with medications and lifestyle changes to increase blood circulation, these efforts will do little to counteract the effects of Buerger’s. Exercise, dietary changes, herbal and vitamin supplements, stress reduction, sleep and even acupuncture can all be useful means to increase blood circulation in individuals with decreased blood flow. However, with continued use of tobacco products, circulatory function will only diminish in people with Buerger’s, even with other healthful lifestyle changes.

It is essential that if any of the symptoms of Buerger’s disease are present that medical evaluation be obtained. This is because while the condition can be very serious on its own, the circulatory problems that can be symptoms of the condition can also be present in other health conditions that may require medical care. And, if Buerger’s disease is present, it is absolutely vital to stop using tobacco products immediately as well as taking steps to promote healthy circulation within the body while also protecting and caring for extremities that may be damaged from reduced blood flow. Covering the hands and feet in cold temperatures, caring for wounds extra delicately and avoiding infection are all important for those with Buerger’s. In time, this can increase the amount of time between onset of the condition and the potential loss of limbs that can follow if the disease has progressed far enough for tissue death to have occurred.