Buerger’s Disease

Buerger's disease is related to smoking. The disease causes swelling of the small and medium-sized arteries (and sometimes the veins) in your feet and legs. This rare disorder, which causes the peripheral vessels to tighten or constrict, is more common in men, especially smokers aged 20 to 40.

Smoking causes the blood vessels to tighten in everyone who smokes. But in people with Buerger’s disease, there is so much tightening in the vessels that a lack of oxygen to the cells (ischemia) or tissue death (necrosis) may result.

The symptoms may be different for everyone, but the condition most often causes tender, swollen areas over the vessels, followed by coldness of the feet and hands. Pain in the legs during walking (called intermittent claudication) may happen because of an arterial blockage. The most serious cases sometimes cause the tissue to die, and amputation of the fingers and toes may be needed. People with Buerger’s disease must stop smoking completely, and circulation usually improves soon after.