This information is provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD).
Buerger disease is a disease in which small and medium-sized blood vessels in the arms and/or legs become inflamed and blocked (vasculitis). This reduces blood flow to affected areas of the body, eventually resulting damage to tissues. Symptoms of Buerger disease may include coldness, numbness, tingling or burning, and pain. Symptoms may first be felt in the fingertips or toes, and then move further up the arms or legs. Additional symptoms that may develop include changes in the texture and color of the skin, Raynaud’s phenomenon, painful muscle cramps, swelling (edema), skin ulcers, and gangrene. Rare complications that have been reported include transient ischemic attacks or stroke, and heart attack.
Buerger disease almost always occurs in people who use tobacco, but it is not known exactly how tobacco plays a role in the development of the disease. Some people may have a genetic predisposition to Buerger disease. It is also possible that Buerger disease is an autoimmune disease, as the immune system seems to play a large role in its development. More research is needed to identify the exact underlying causes.
Quitting all forms of tobacco is an essential part of stopping the progression of the disease. There are no definitive treatments, but certain therapies may improve symptoms in some people. Therapies that have been reported with varying success include medications to improve blood flow and reduce the risk of clots, pain medicines, compression of the arms and legs, spinal cord stimulation, and surgery to control pain and increase blood flow. Amputation may be necessary if gangrene or a serious infection develops.
For more information, visit GARD.