Problems with the arteries and veins present in the hands or legs can lead to vascular disorders. The arteries carry blood from the heart to other parts of the body in order to deliver nutrients and oxygen. The veins carry the blood back to the heart, after the nutrients have been used up. If these blood vessels of the arteries or veins become blocked or narrowed, it can lead to a vascular blockage.
A vascular blockage that occurs in the hands or legs comes under the category of Peripheral Artery Disease or PAD. These type of disorders are less common in the upper extremities of the arms or hands than in the lower extremities of legs. Few of the signs for the same are:
- Pain and difficulty in movement due to decreased blood flow
- Numbness or weakness of leg or fingertips
- Sores on the toes or feet
- If the blockage is deep, symptoms of redness, swelling, extreme pain or cramping can be experienced
- Abnormal color changes in the fingertips
- Ulcers or wounds that don’t heal
- Skin sensitivity problems when in cold temperatures
How can it be diagnosed?
The blockage can be detected by various methods namely-
- Physical Examination – Your doctor may find decreased pulse at armpit, wrist or fingers, full veins, masses, wounds or gangrene.
- Doppler or Ultrasound examination to determine the blood flow in the arteries and veins
- MRI Scan of the affected area to pay special attention to the blood vessels
- Cold Stress Test
- Arteriography to show clear blood vessel details
- Angiography to map blockages and narrowing of the arteries
What are the Risk Factors for Peripheral Artery Disease?
An individual is at risk for developing vascular blockages in the hands or legs if one or more of the following factors are present:
- Heredity Factors – A personal or family history of blood vessel disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Aging – People aged above 50 years and older are more prone to vascular blockage
Can it be treated?
Treatments for vascular blockage can vary depending on the age, cause of the blockage, intensity and overall well-being.
Treatments can include:
- Self-care – Reducing risk factors and making lifestyle changes to quit smoking, sedentary life or diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol management can reverse symptoms of vascular disease.
- Medications – A variety of drugs can be prescribed to lower the risk and progression of narrowing blood vessels or prevent blood clotting.
- Interventional Procedures – Minimally invasive surgery like saloon angioplasty, stenting or removal of artery plaque build-up.
- Surgery – If the blockage is severe, surgery may be performed to lessen the vessel narrowing, reconstruct the artery or tie it off, depending on the circumstances.
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