Arm Artery Disease

What is Arm Artery Disease?

In this condition, one or more of the arteries supplying blood to the arms and hands becomes blocked. Sometimes called upper extremity disease, arm artery disease is an uncommon type of peripheral artery disease.

Unlike other forms of peripheral artery disease, which usually result from atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), arm artery disease can be
caused by many factors (including autoimmune diseases, blood clots, radiation therapy, Raynaud’s disease, repetitive motion, and injury).

Symptoms of Arm Artery Disease

Arm artery disease usually develops over a long period of time. Common symptoms include:

  • Discomfort, heaviness, tiredness, or cramping – only when the arm is in motion
  • Finger pain

Other symptoms of arm artery disease include:

  • Sensitivity to the cold in the hands
  • Fingers temporarily become blue or pale and painful
  • Lack of a pulse in the wrist or areas of the hand
  • Shrinkage of muscle in the arm or hand
  • Pale, cool skin on the arm or hand
  • Bluish, slow-growing fingernails
  • Slow-growing arm hair
  • Sores on the fingers
  • Gangrene in the arm or hand

Diagnosing Arm Artery Disease

After discussing symptoms and family history of disease, your health care provider will perform an examination which may include:

Treatment Options

Depending on the cause, location, and severity of the case, a variety of treatments are available, including:

  • Prescription medications to help patients with Raynaud’s disease
  • Anti-platelet drugs to prevent blood clots from forming
  • Quitting smoking (the most important treatment for people with Buerger’s disease)
  • Cervical sympathetic blockade (an anesthetic blocks the nerves that caused vascular spasm in the hands)
  • Surgical bypass (grafts to reroute blood flow around an arterial blockage) when large arteries are blocked

Our surgeons who treat arm artery disease

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