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Vascular Diseases and Pain

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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 excitement. 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.

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are bulging, swollen, purple, ropy veins, seen just under your skin, caused by damaged valves within the veins. They are more common in women than men and often run in families. They can also be caused by pregnancy, being severely overweight, or by standing for long periods of time. The symptoms include:

  • Bulging, swollen, purple, ropy, veins seen under the skin
  • Spider veins -- small red or purple bursts on your knees, calves, or thighs, caused by swollen capillaries (small blood vessels)
  • Aching, stinging, or swelling of the legs at the end of the day
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