Although no treatment can cure Buerger's disease, the most effective way to halt the disease's progress is to quit using all tobacco products. Even a few cigarettes a day can worsen the disease.
Your doctor can counsel you and recommend medications to help you stop smoking and stop the swelling in your blood vessels. You'll need to avoid nicotine replacement products because they supply nicotine, which activates Buerger's disease; there are non-nicotine products that you can use. If the disease is still active, your doctor may check your urine for the presence of nicotine to see if you're still smoking.
Another option is a residential smoking cessation program. In these programs, you stay at a treatment facility, sometimes a hospital, for a set number of days or weeks. During that time you participate in daily counseling sessions and other activities to help you deal with the cravings for cigarettes and to help you learn to live tobacco-free.
Other treatment approaches exist but are less effective. Options include:
- Medications to dilate blood vessels, improve blood flow or dissolve blood clots
- Intermittent compression of the arms and legs to increase blood flow to your extremities
- Spinal cord stimulation
- Surgery to cut the nerves to the affected area (surgical sympathectomy) to control pain and increase blood flow, although this procedure is controversial and long-term results haven't been well-studied
- Medications to stimulate growth of new blood vessels (therapeutic angiogenesis), an approach that is considered experimental
- Amputation, if infection or gangrene occurs
Jan. 28, 2016
- Buerger's disease. National Organization for Rare Disorders. http://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/buergers-disease/. Accessed Nov. 19, 2015.
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- Cronenwett JL, et al. Thromboangiitis obliterans (Buerger's disease). In: Rutherford's Vascular Surgery. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier, Inc.; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Nov. 19, 2015.
- Del Conde I, et al. Thromboangiitis obliterans (Buerger's disease). Techniques in Vascular and Interventional Radiology. 2014;17:234.
- Igari K, et al. The epidemiologic and clinical findings of patients with Buerger disease. Annals of Vascular Surgery. In press. Accessed Nov. 19, 2015.
- Riggs EA. AllScripts EPSi. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 20, 2015.