Vascular pain is a condition that affects people of all ages. The vascular system involves all of the blood vessels, lymph vessels, and lymph nodes in your body. When this system is interrupted or kept from performing at peak efficiency, this can cause pain and discomfort in various parts of the body. In extreme cases, vascular disease can lead to amputation or death from a heart attack or stroke.
Dr. Irfan Siddiqui, a vascular surgeon from Florida, explains the root causes of the different types of vascular pain, describes their symptoms, and the treatments which can bring relief from these serious conditions.
Root Causes of Vascular Pain
These serious conditions are caused when veins and arteries are blocked by deposits of cholesterol and fat known as plaque. They can also be caused by inflammation or a weakening of the arteries and veins.
Risk factors for vascular disease include being male, having a family history of vascular disease, having high blood pressure and smoking. Other risk factors include having diabetes, being overweight, having high cholesterol levels, lack of exercise, an unhealthy diet, and stress.
Types of Vascular Pain
Atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries can lead to heart attacks and chest pain. These conditions also prevent blood from reaching the tissues in the body. This can lead to ischemia, a condition where a body part receives only a restricted blood supply. Strokes are a type of ischemia that results from parts of the brain having their blood supply cut off. These are generally caused by vascular disease affecting the neck.
Peripheral artery disease causes pain in the extremities, usually in the legs. 9 percent of the population may suffer from peripheral artery disease. In extreme cases, peripheral artery disease may lead to amputation of a limb due to the restricted blood flow.
Another type of vascular pain is caused by aneurysms. An aneurysm happens when the blood vessels bulge. It causes plaque to build up at the site of the aneurysm, leading to the formation of blood clots. Aneurysms can cause pain when the affected area is pressed against other organs.
Vascular disease progresses for many years without discernible symptoms. By the time the patient is experiencing pain or other symptoms, the condition has advanced to dangerous levels.
The primary symptom of vascular pain is discomfort and weakness in the affected area. The skin may change color. The patient may experience ulcers or sores which will not heal. The patient may have a feeling of tiredness in the affected limb.
Kidney blockages can cause heart failure, a loss of function, and severely high blood pressure. Peripheral arteries, as in the arms and legs, can also experience blockages. Leg blockages lead to pain and cramps while the patient is active.
There are a number of ways that physicians can help patients who are suffering from vascular pain. Medications that lower cholesterol and high blood pressure can be used. It is also important to treat underlying diabetes. Medications that prevent blood clots, like Plavix, are also used.
There are drugs available that specifically treat vascular pain. These include cilostazol, which increases the blood flow to the veins by thinning the blood and making the vessels wider. Another option for medication is pentoxifylline.
Surgical remedies for vascular pain include angioplasty, bypass surgery, and thrombolytic therapy. In an angioplasty, the vascular surgeon threads a catheter through the narrowed blood vessel. A tiny balloon attached to the catheter inflates, opening the artery.
Doctors may also use stents, or small mesh frameworks that help keep the artery open. This technique is used most often in the heart but can be used for peripheral artery disease as well.
Bypass surgery is another option for people who are suffering from vascular pain. In bypass surgery, a blood vessel taken from another part of your body or a synthetic substitute is used to detour around the blocked artery.
Thrombolytic therapy involves dissolving a blood clot with a specific drug. The drug breaks up the clot, and regular function is restored.
Treatment is Possible
There is hope for patients with vascular pain. Doctors like Irfan Siddiqui are able to help their patients with the severe pain associated with vascular disease. Using a range of advanced treatments, the pain and discomfort of vascular disease can be lessened. Vascular disease is preventable using lifestyle methods. Patients should be careful to control their blood pressure, cholesterol levels, diabetes, and unhealthy diets. They should also engage in carefully controlled exercise.