Buerger’s Disease affects the arms, legs, feet, and hands through veins and arteries. The sensations of the disease can be uncomfortable, and you might even have serious disabilities from the disease if it’s left untreated. But you might not know whether or not you’re eligible to receive benefits. While Buerger’s Disease isn’t specifically listed in the SSA blue book, many of the symptoms of the disease are conditions that are listed as disorders that are covered. People who are unsure if they have the disease or if they’re eligible for disability benefits should read more about the disease below.
What is Buerger’s Disease?
Buerger’s Disease, also called Thromboangiitis Obliterans, is a disease that affects mostly the fingers and toes. But it can also spread to larger parts of the body, such as hands, feet, arms, and legs. In Thromboangiitis Obliterans, blood vessels become inflamed, and people with this disorder can even develop blood clots in the veins. If left untreated, the skin tissue eventually becomes infected or even gangrene.
Thromboangiitis Obliterans isn’t very common, with only about 200,000 cases per year in the U.S. Although the disease can affect people of any ethnicity in any part of the world, it’s most common in Asian and Middle Eastern males between the ages of 40 and 50. There’s also no known reason as to why it more commonly affects this population more than other populations.
Heavy smoking is one of the most common contributing factors to developing the disease. It’s not known how smoking plays a role in the development of the disease, but some experts think that some of the chemicals in the tobacco irritate the lining of veins and arteries. Experts also believe that some people might have greater susceptibility because of their genetics.
There’s also no known cure for the disease, and it can become serious when left untreated. People who get gangrene in their hands or feet might need to have the affected areas amputated so that the gangrene doesn’t spread. The disease can also become life threatening if some of the symptoms affect vital organs.
Symptoms of Buerger’s Disease
One of the first signs of Thromboangiitis Obliterans is claudication, which is pain associated with the hands or feet during exercise. Another common early sign is Raynaud’s Phenomenon, which is a temporary occurrence in which the fingers or toes turn white upon exposure to the cold.
Tingling, numbness, and pain in the hands, fingers, feet, or toes is also one of the most noticeable symptoms. If you experience numbness or tingling, it’s possible that the cause is something other than Thromoangiitis Obliterans, such as spinal stenosis or another type of spinal problem that’s irritating the nerve, but these symptoms shouldn’t be ignored. A medical professional is the best person to determine the cause of any unusual sensations.
People who notice any kind of strange sensations in their hands or feet should check the coloring of their fingers and toes. Thromboangiitis Obliterans will often cause fingers, hands, toes, and feet to have a red, purple, or bluish appearance. When it’s cold, these same body parts might also get a white, washed-out appearance. Painful, open sores can also start to appear.
As the disease progresses, some people might also notice sores that won’t heal, which will often be diagnosed by a health care provider as a skin ulcer. The skin around affected body parts can also turn so dark that the red, purple, or blue appearance eventually turns black. All of these symptoms are signs that the tissue is dying.
Treatment of Buerger’s Disease
Almost all people who develop Buerger’s Disease either smoke cigarettes or use chewing tobacco, so quitting tobacco products can decrease the likelihood of getting Buerger’s Disease. People who already have Buerger’s Disease might also notice fewer symptoms if they completely quit all forms of tobacco use.
Some people also report fewer symptoms when they stay hydrated and eat healthfully. There are also people with Buerger’s Disease who report that staying out of the cold lessens the symptoms that they experience.
Some health care providers might also want to have an angiogram done on and around the affected areas. An angiogram is a procedure that helps the doctor determine where the blood vessels are affected. In this procedure, a radio-opaque liquid is injected into the arteries and veins so that there’s a contrast when the x-ray image is taken of the affected area. With the radio contrast liquid, doctors are able to see where blood is flowing in the veins and where it isn’t flowing.
If the pain is particularly strong, people with Buerger’s Disease might need to get a sympathectomy, which is a surgical procedure that eliminates the pain caused by Thromboangiitis Obliterans by destroying nerves in the sympathetic nervous system. The procedure can also increase blood flow and reduce the number of clots that are caused by Buerger’s Disease.
Benefits for People With Buerger’s Disease
People suffering from Thromboangiitis Obliterans need to know which benefits will be available. The severity of symptoms might determine whether or not a person is eligible for SSA benefits. Buerger’s Disease isn’t specifically listed as a disease in the SSA blue book, but systemic vasculitis is listed in the blue book, and vasculitis one of the most common side effects of Buerger’s Disease.
Thromboangiitis Obliterans can create other medical conditions that will make it more likely that you’ll receive medical benefits. For instance, pulmonary embolisms, skin ulcers, and venous stasis also can be results of Buerger’s Disease, so you might be able to receive SSA benefits if you exhibit any of these symptoms.
A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that travels to the lungs. Once there, it blocks the artery in the lung. In the case of Buerger’s Disease, the blood clot that travels to the lung is from the blood clots in the hand or arm.
A skin ulcer is a specific type of open sore, and they’ll often arise on the skin of a person with Buerger’s Disease. It’s mainly caused by poor circulation. This type of ulcer can make it difficult for people with certain types of jobs to be able to comfortably and effectively do the job.
Venous Stasis is a condition in which there’s slow blood movement within the veins. The slow blood movement makes it more likely that blood clots will form. In essence, while Buerger’s Disease is not in the SSA blue book, many of the symptoms that Buerger’s Disease causes are in the blue book.
How We Can Help
There are several ways in which the team at Osterhout Berger Disability Law can help you receive the benefit you deserve. We help individuals who need to…
- Apply for Social Security Benefits and want to ensure everything is done right the first time
- Appeal a denial of Social Security Disability Benefits
- Appeal an existing denial of Long Term Disability (LTD) Benefits
If you are facing one of these situations due to Buerger’s Disease, please do not hesitate in reaching out. Our team of experienced attorneys are here to help, and your consultation is free.