Buerger's Disease

Joined: 7:22 PM - Nov 11, 2008

2:48 PM - Mar 01, 2012 #1

Buerger's Disease
Buerger's disease, also known as thromboangiitis obliterans, is caused by vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels).  

The blood vessels of the hands and feet are especially affected. They tighten or become totally blocked. The average age when symptoms begin is around 35 years. Woman and older adults are affected less often.  Thromboangiitis obliterans mostly affects men ages 20 to 40 who have a history of smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco.  
As Joel notes in his "Smoking and Circulation" article and in his "Heart and Circulatory Diseases" video clip, once total blockage occurs tissues are deprived of oxygen, suffocate and die.  Gangrene arrives and the affected area requires amputation.  As Joel notes, "what makes Bueger’s Disease unique is that it is a disease that is basically exclusive to smokers." 


• Hands or feet may be pale, red, or bluish
• Hands or feet may feel cold
• Pain in the hands and feet
• Burning or tingling that often occurs at rest
• Pain in the legs, ankles, or feet when walking (intermittent claudication)
• Pain is often located in the arch of the foot
• Skin changes or ulcers on hands or feet
• Symptoms may worsen with exposure to cold or with emotional stress
• Usually, two or more limbs are affected
• The hands or feet may have large, red, tender blood vessels.
• The pulse in the affected hands or feet may be low or missing.


There is no cure for Buerger's Disease. The goal of treatment is to control symptoms.  The way to control symptoms is to stop smoking.  

Imagine being addicted to smoking or oral tobacco and at the time of your first amputation being told that if you don't quit that additional amputations will occur.  While fear is a powerful initial motivator it has little sustaining power as eventually we grow numb to it.  Risk of smoking relapse increases as fears subside and decline.  

Quitting for fear is like trying to quit for another person.   First and foremost, our quit has to be for us or its doomed before it starts.   Instead of fear of failing health, why not dream of just how healthy we might again become if we end our senseless self-destruction via slow chemical suicide.  What would it be like to have your sense of smell and taste come alive, your cough or wheeze disappear, and your breathing and circulation improve?  What would it be like to each day feel better than you have in years?

Freedom is your birthright!  Why fear this temporary journey of readjustment that leads to going entire days without once wanting to introduce nicotine back into your bloodstream?  Breaking free is vastly more wonderful than that pile of old nicotine replenishment memories suggests.  In fact, the only way to bring wanting for more to a lasting end is to ignore their deadly message. 

We sincerely hope you'll return to Freedom and WhyQuit to continue reading, learning and growing until becoming far smarter than your addiction is strong.  Millions of words here in Freedom's hundreds of thousands of member posts but just one guiding principle determining the outcome for all.  It's that lapse equals relapse, that one equals all, that one puff will always be too many and thousands never enough.  Baby steps, just one hour and challenge at a time, yes you can!!!

Breathe deep, hug hard, live long,

John - Gold x12 

Buerger's Disease
Annals of Vascular Surgery, 2012 Jan 25. [Epub ahead of print]
Dargon PT, Landry GJ.
Buerger's disease (thromboangiitis obliterans) is a nonatherosclerotic segmental inflammatory disease of small- and medium-sized arteries of the distal extremities of predominantly young male tobacco users. Early symptoms may include episodic pain and coldness in fingers, and late findings may present as intermittent claudication, skin ulcers, or gangrene requiring eventual amputation. Tobacco cessation is the cornerstone of treatment. Other modalities of reducing pain or avoiding amputation have not been as successful. This review summarizes in tabular form the types of treatment that have been used, including therapeutic angiogenesis.

Quote from this study:

...Total tobacco cessation (smoking, secondhand smoke, and nicotine replacement therapy) is the only treatment that improves symptoms and reduces the risk of amputation, if done before the onset of gangrene or tissue loss. One study showed that patients who required above-the-knee or below-the-knee amputation were all active smokers after diagnosis, and 85% of them became unemployed secondary to amputation...