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    Vascular Diseases and Pain

    Raynaud's Phenomenon (Also Called Raynaud's Disease or Raynaud's Syndrome)

    Raynaud's phenomenon consists of spasms of the small arteries of the fingers and sometimes the toes, brought on by exposure to cold or stress. Certain occupational exposures bring on Raynaud's. The episodes produce a temporary lack of blood supply to the area, causing the skin to appear white or bluish and feel cold or numb. In some cases, the symptoms of Raynaud's may be related to underlying diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and scleroderma.

    Buerger's Disease

    Buerger's disease most commonly affects the small- and medium-sized arteries and veins. Although the cause is unknown, there is a strong association with tobacco use or exposure. The arteries of the arms and legs become narrowed or blocked, causing lack of blood supply (ischemia) to the fingers, hands, toes and feet. Pain occurs in the arms, hands and, more frequently, the legs and feet, even when at rest. With severe blockages, the tissue may die (gangrene), requiring amputation of the fingers and toes.

    Superficial vein inflammation and symptoms of Raynaud's occur commonly in people with Buerger's disease.

    Peripheral Venous Disease

    Veins are flexible, hollow tubes with flaps inside called valves. When your muscles contract, the valves open and blood moves through the veins. When your muscles relax, the valves close, keeping blood flowing in one direction through the veins.

    If the valves inside your veins become damaged, the valves may not close completely. This allows blood to flow in both directions. When your muscles relax, the valves inside the damaged vein(s) will not be able to hold the blood. This can cause pooling of blood or swelling in the veins. The veins bulge and appear as ropes under the skin. The blood begins to move more slowly through the veins, it may stick to the sides of the vessel walls and blood clots can form.

    Peripheral Arterial Disease

    Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) or peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is sometimes called “poor circulation.” It usually refers to the narrowing of arteries in the legs, causing less blood flow to the muscles. PAD can also affect the arms, stomach and neck. It is caused by atherosclerosis of the arteries (cholesterol plaques causing hardening and narrowing of the artery) due to high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, inactivity and obesity. The most common symptom of PAD of the legs is claudication, which is pain occurring while walking and relieved with rest. You may also feel cramping or a tiredness in the leg or hip muscles while walking.

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