Who gets Buerger's disease?
I am a 30 year old man who might have Buerger's disease. Can this happen to me?
Buerger's disease can happen to anyone, but most commonly it is diagnosed in males between the ages of 20 and 40. It is a disease of the small and medium blood vessels of hands and feet. It is a recurrent problem of inflammation and clotting of these small blood vessels. The exact cause of the disease is not known, but it does have a very strong association with tobacco use (including smoking and chewing tobacco). The number one treatment recommendation is to stop smoking and abstain from any tobacco use. This usually halts, or at least slows progression of this disease. In severe cases, Buerger's disease can lead to severe inflammation and clotting of vessels in hands and feet which may cause ischemia (insufficient blood flow) to distal parts of your body - usually fingers and toes. In such severe cases, a vascular surgery consultation is highly recommended. This, in turn can lead to amputation. Steroids and blood thinners can help with symptoms of pain, but have generally not been shown to reverse the disease. As I said, the best thing to do is to abstain from tobacco products. I would recommend that you consult your primary care physician or a rheumatologist to formulate a plan of care and treatment.