Extremity ischaemia (Ischemia)

Do you feel the sensation of cold limbs? Does pain make you take breaks while walking and with time wake you up from sleep? Then you probably suffer from ischemia. It may result in tissue necrosis and creation of ulcers. In final stages, the limb might be in danger of amputation.

Do not postpone an appointment with your physician. Manage your health issues in time. Would you like to manage extremity ischemia now? You can utilize our health advisory centre.

Extremity ischemia - description, treatment
Picture Extremity ischaemia (Ischemia)

Characteristics of Extremity Ischemia and its Causes

Extremity Ischemia causes an insufficient supply of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and tissues. This results in a variety of trophic changes, which may lead to amputation of a limb.

With lower extremity ischemia, the disease affects arteries in legs and causes a narrowing or occlusion of the arteries.

The most common cause of narrowing or occlusion is atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), thrombus (blood clot), Buerger’s disease and vasoconstriction of arteries.

Upper extremity ischemia is far less common than the lower extremity one; Raynaud’s phenomenon, a disease often called “white fingers”, is a common form.

Acute extremity ischemia is symptomized by sudden and severe pain in the limb, paleness of the limb with no swelling, impalpable pulse beyond the occlusion of the artery, impossibility to move the limb and changed sensation.

The main risk factors in developing the disease are:

  • smoking,
  • lack of exercise,
  • advanced age,
  • psychological stress,
  • obesity,
  • high level of cholesterol,
  • high blood pressure,
  • diabetes and others.

Extremity Ischemia Treatment – Rid yourself of the Pain

This disease requires specialised vascular examination and timely start of treatment based on the stage and location of the disease. The main goal is to improve arterial blood circulation and to avoid amputation.

Adjustments to the lifestyle and elimination of risk factors like smoking, stress, weight reduction and managing diabetes are important.

The main goal of pharmacological treatment is to reduce platelet aggregation and creation of blood clots (antiaggregation therapy). Some drugs can directly affect arteries and cause their dilation (vasodilation therapy).

Regular physical exercise and rehabilitation are important.

Acute extremity ischemia requires immobilization, covering and bracing the limb, administering heparin, analgesics and calming the patient.

In cases where there is a defect on the limb, wound healing tools and methods are utilised. Moist wound healing is one of those tools. Physical therapy in the form or ultrasound therapy are also part of treatment.

  • Trophic changes – changes to the skin (skin is drier, colder, peels, skin defects develop, there is local hair loss,..).
  • Buerger’s disease (Thrombangiitis obliterans) – diseased characterised by inflammation of arteries and veins in lower and upper limbs (mainly in smokers).
  • Vasoconstriction or constriction of vessels – process, where vessels get constricted, affects mostly arteries and veins.
  • Atherosclerosis – hardening of the arteries as a result of plaque building up in arterial walls.
  • Moist wound healing – a method of wound treatment based on creating optimally moist environment on the wound.
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