How To Treat Vasculitis In The Legs
Vasculitis is a general term given to any disease that leads to inflammation of the blood vessels. When your blood vessels are inflamed, the affected body part becomes weak and can either increase or decrease in size. Sometimes, it narrows to the point it entirely closes off and blocks. Symptoms may vary depending on the affected body part and the severity of the condition. An angiography or biopsy is usually required to confirm vasculitis in an effective diagnosis. Treatment is directed towards reducing the inflammation and restoring proper functioning of the affected body part. Read this oneHOWTO article to know how to treat vasculitis in the legs and see how you might improve your overall health in the process.
Symptoms of vasculitis in the Legs
Symptoms of vasculitis in the legs may vary significantly from one person to the other, depending on the age and tolerance of the patient and severity of the disease. Some commonly experienced symptoms include:
- Weight loss
- Ulcers, skin discoloration and rashes on legs
- Pain in the leg muscles
- Shortness of breath
Causes of vasculitis in the legs
In many instances, the cause remains unknown. But in a few cases, its cause may be traced back to a recent or an ongoing infection, especially the one caused by a virus. Sometimes, it may also be triggered by an allergic reaction to certain medicine. Vasculitis may develop even after treatment of an infection. This is because the infection triggers an unusual response system in the patient’s immunity. The immune system overacts and reates build up of blood cells (blood clots) in the blood vessels, leading to vasculitis.
A person with weak immunity may also develop vasculitis in the legs and other body parts or organs. Typically, when the blood vessels in your legs develop vasculitis, they get inflamed and become thicker or narrower. Blood flow gets reduced to your legs, due to which you experience difficulty moving. Less flow of blood means fewer nutrients and oxygen to your legs, resulting in blood clots and other complications.
Seriousness of Vasculitis in the Legs
Vasculitis in the legs can be serious, even life threatening. Initially it starts with mild discomfort in the legs and difficulty in walking, running, changing position, etc. In acute situations, a segment of blood vessel in the leg weakens and eventually stretches and bulges, resulting in an aneurysm. When a blood vessel narrows and becomes inflamed, supply of blood to that area can get completely or partially blocked.
If the alternate blood vessels are also not able to make up for the lack of blood supply, the tissue of the affected area may die and the leg may become completely immovable. Sometimes, the wall of blood vessel becomes so weak to the point it ruptures and starts bleeding. This can even result in death. However, this is a very rare thing to happen to anyone.
Diagnosis of vasculitis in the legs
Laboratory tests of body fluids or blood of the patient with vasculitis are used for indicating inflammation in the body. Depending on the severity of the condition, a number of organ functioning tests may also be required. Vasculitis is only diagnosed after a biopsy of the involved tissue, demonstrating a pattern of inflammation in the respective blood vessels. However, biopsies do have certain complications. This is because the vasculitis may only present in certain parts of a vein or artery, not along the whole thing. This means a long part of the vessel needs to be taken out. It is possible to get unlucky and take a part which is unaffected while vasculitis is present further along.
This is why there are other ways of determining a vasculitis diagnosis. While establishing vasculitis of organs, a biopsy of sinus, skin, kidney, nerve or lung may be conducted a fuller picture is achieved through other methods. For vasculitis in the legs, an x-ray test or angiogram of the blood vessels of legs is done to demonstrate inflammation pattern in the blood vessels.
Quality of life in a patient with vasculitis
Quality of life in a patient with vasculitis may vary, depending on the type of vasculitis from which the patient is suffering. Previously, people suffering from severe vasculitis led a very uncomfortable life may only survive for a few months or even weeks. Contemporaneously, proper treatment options can allow a person to live a comfortable life for much longer.
How successful the vasculitis treatment will depend on how early your condition is diagnosed, how good is the treatment you receive and how careful you were during the follow up procedure. The doctor will also make sure that you do not develop any serious side effects after taking prescribed medicines. Once your vasculitis is under control, medicines may be withdrawn gradually and cautiously. The aim is to give you long term remission without the need of further treatment. People suffering from severe vasculitis may need regular medical observation even after successful treatment of the disease.
Treatment of vasculitis in the legs
If the cause of your vasculitis is overactive immunity, then treatment may involve medicines that suppress your immune system. Vasculitis is a serious disorder which often requires professional medical treatment. It entirely depends on the diagnosis and severity of the disease. When it is caused by an allergic reaction, it may subside on its own without any medical treatment. But in other cases, aggressive treatment is required within a certain time to be effective. Treatment often consists of administering steroids or corticosteroids. Sometimes, chemotherapy drugs may also be used, but in lower doses than those required for cancer treatment. This kind of therapy aims at suppressing the abnormal immune system which leads to damage in the blood vessels.
Other medicines which may be administered include cyclophosphamide or methotrexate. Tocilizumab, a biologic drug may also be used. Tocilizumab is inserted under the patient’s skin in the legs to lower the steroid dosage required by the patient. This medication may be administered along with a steroid. Since vasculitis is a serious disorder, it often requires treatment which entails its own level of risk. For instance, the drugs used for its treatment may have undesired side effects and sometimes they may trigger serious allergic reactions. Often these side effects are controlled with the help of supplementary medicines.
Eat healthily and rest
Eating healthy food is crucial for controlling inflammation while still supplying required fuel to your body. Diet can be successfully used to manage flair ups and keep inflammation low. Anti-inflammatory foods are minimally processed ones that are easy to digest and help with gastroenteritis (digestive inflammation). Avoid gluten, dairy products and excess sugar. Also avoid undercooked meat, raw seafood and processed meats, as these may increase negative reactions in patients with weak immune system. Also reduce intake of alcohol, sweetened beverages and caffeine, as they may worsen your digestive problems.
To ensure the best treatment for vasculitis,it is important to eat unprocessed, whole foods which are low in sodium and rich in electrolytes like magnesium and potassium. These include green leafy vegetables and non-starchy foods like avocados, bananas, cabbage, broccoli, black beans, almonds, sweet potatoes, pumpkin seeds, etc. Stay physically active and at the same time ensure adequate rest. Eventually incorporate moderate exercise, like walking, swimming, cycling and stretching. Also take enough rest from time to time to overcome any autoimmune health related problems and deal with fatigue.
Precautions to take during vasculitis treatment
Your doctor will closely monitor you to ensure the medicines prescribed are not causing any serious side effects. Relapse may occur, which is why it is essential to manage your condition over the long term. No matter for how long your treatment will continue, it is important to keep your doctor updated about your improvement and let them know about each and every symptom you develop during the treatment. Since there are more than 20 different types of vasculitis, your symptoms, causes and treatment may vary greatly. Seek medical attention as soon as you start experiencing any symptoms of vasculitis in your legs or any other part of body or organ. This will have a great bearing on the efficacy of the eventual treatment.
This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.
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