Understanding Vascular Disorders

Vascular disorders are common in men and women throughout the United States. These disorders take place in the body’s vascular (circulatory) system, which is responsible for carrying lymph and blood through the body. Any disorder within the vascular system is extremely dangerous because it can disrupt the process of transferring blood throughout your body. 


With that said, do you have a question about a particular vascular disorder? Have you recently been diagnosed with a vascular disorder and would like to educate yourself further about your condition?

If so, continue reading this in-depth guide for details relating to vascular disorders.

Vascular disorders are issues concerning the veins and arteries of the human body. Arteries are narrow pipes that bring blood (oxygen rich) from the hearts to the tips of your fingers and toes. Veins are narrow pipes that send used blood (oxygen poor) back to the heart and lungs.

In your wrist, you have ulnar and radial arteries, which direct blood flow into your hand. These arteries also conjoin into two arches that supply blood to each of the fingers.

Vascular disorders are less common in the arms than the legs, but it still affects almost 10% of people according to the American Society of Surgery of the Hand (ASSH).

These disorders can lead to open wounds, pain, and the eventual loss of limbs.



People with chronic diseases such as kidney failure, high blood pressure, and diabetes are more likely to have issues with their blood vessels. Smoking, being constantly in cold weather, can magnify vascular disorders. The causes of vascular disorders are commonly divided into five main categories:


  • Traumatic: occurs after a significant injury

  • Compressive: occurs when the body’s pipes flatten

  • Occlusive: occurs when the body’s pipes are blocked

  • Tumors: occurs when growths, deformed, or tangled pipes affect the blood vessels

  • Vessel spasms: occurs when the control of vessels becomes abnormal and causes them to narrow


Signs and Symptoms:

 There are numerous symptoms involving vascular disorders. These include:

  • Pain
  • Wounds or ulcers that do not heal
  • Abnormal color changes in the fingertips
  • Cold hands and/or fingers
  • Swelling
  • Tingling or numbness of the fingertips
  • Difficulty with hands in cold temperatures

This is not an exhaustive list of symptoms of vascular disorders. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, please call your doctor immediately.

During a standard diagnosis, your doctor will perform a physical examination and may identify:

  • Full veins
  • Masses
  • Gangrene or wounds at the fingertips
  • Reduced or lack of pulses at the wrist, fingers, elbow, and armpit

They will generally perform diagnostic tests, which may include:

  • Ultrasound or doppler examination of sufficient blood flow in the veins and arteries.

  • Pulse recordings and artery pressure to measure blood flow in the finger or arm vessels.

  • MRI of the affected area in relation to the body’s blood vessels.

  • Cold stress test, which entails identifying the temperatures of the fingers placed in and out of cold water.

  • Arteriography – a special test in which dye is inserted into the blood vessels and X-rays are taken to show extensive muscle detail.



Depending on the condition you have, your doctor will prescribe the appropriate treatment. Here are the standard treatments for four common vascular disorders.



Traumatic injuries can severely damage blood vessels, causing them to be partially or completed severed (e.g. knife wound). During a traumatic injury, the damaged vessel can be stretched badly enough to cause a clot.

As a result, poor blood flow can cause the affected area to become white, painful, and cold. Damaged vessels must be repaired immediately to preserve them. Sometimes, nearby arteries can assist the damaged ones in continuing blood flow.



An aneurysm is a soft spot in the artery wall that starts to expand much like a balloon over time. In time, painless and soft swelling might appear over the affected artery.

This can cause a clot in the artery. Aneurysms are extremely dangerous and have severe complications. Depending on the circumstances, surgery to reconstruct the artery or tying it all altogether will be considered.

Vascular malformations:


Tangled arteries or veins can appear at birth, but they are not usually noticed until they begin to grow. Over time, this disorder can cause abnormal connections between arteries and veins.

Symptoms can include excessive bleeding, pain, warmth, and swelling. Treatment options include shrinking vessels by clotting them, using wraps to apply pressure, or removing parts or all of the malformations of the vessels with surgery.

Raynaud’s Disease:


Although it’s rare, people with Raynaud’s Disease may have abnormally narrow finger arteries in cold temperatures. Treatment options include wearing protective clothing in the wintertime or surgery, if the pain does not stop and wounds do not heal.

All of these are standard vascular disorders, but it still does not include all of them. A vascular disorder is characterized as any disease that affects the blood vessels, and there are several dozens of them.

How to Avoid a Vascular Disorder


For the most part, vascular disorders are not present during birth. Typically, they are not even inherited from past generations. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, one can avoid vascular disorders.

Primarily, here is what you can do to avoid them.

  • Don’t smoke. It’s a proven fact that both long-term and short-term tobacco user weakens the lungs and its surrounding arteries. This can cause a vascular disease, such as heart disease and a heart attack.
  • Exercise regularly. Keeping your body in shape is a great way to promote strong arteries and fewer clots. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise for five days a week.
  • Change your diet. A low-fat, low-sodium diet is the proper way to avoid foods that can cause your arteries to get clogged. Over time, this can lead to a stroke or a heart attack.
  • Take your medications. Your doctor may prescribe you medication to help lower your cholesterol and blood pressure.


Give Us a Call Today!


Do you have any more questions about vascular diseases and how you can cope with your condition? If so, please contact us at (210) 212-8622 to learn more.

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