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Can You Get Peripheral Artery Disease In Your Arms & What Does A Blocked Artery In Your Arm Feel Like?

Peripheral artery disease is a type of arterial insufficiency, which indicates a decrease in the circulation of blood from the arteries i.e. blood vessels, which carry the blood away from your heart. The disease has common risk factors i.e. high levels of blood cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, inactivity, hypertension, and obesity, or overweight.(1)

In the case of peripheral artery disease, the arteries block or become narrow slowly with the formation of plaque within the artery walls.(2)

PAD is common in the United States, as it has until now affected about 10millions of people. Moreover, the problem is common among those, who have more than 65years of age. However, in rare cases, PAD may take place at almost every age group.(3)

Can You Get Peripheral Artery Disease In Your Arms?

Does peripheral artery disease occur in the arms? Yes, you may even have peripheral artery disease in the arms. In this situation, doctors refer it arm arterial disease or arm claudication. A few doctors also call it an upper extremity type of arterial disease. Arm artery disease takes place mainly when blockages take place in the arteries of your arms i.e. when the blood clots float from an injured artery or your heart into the chest. (4)

Peripheral artery disease in arms i.e. arm artery disease comes on quickly. However, it starts at a slow rate but becomes worse if you leave it untreated for a long time. You do not notice any symptom or hardly notice it if you have the disease in its mild form. As your arm artery disease progresses to become severe, you eventually develop gangrene or sores in the arm, especially at your fingertips. Gangrene refers to the death of tissues and it takes place whenever the body’s tissues fail to receive blood and oxygen in enough amounts.

Atherosclerosis- The Prime Cause Of Arm Artery Disease

Similar to any other type of peripheral artery disease, arm artery disease also takes place because of atherosclerosis i.e. hardening of arteries. As your age increases, plaque builds up in your arteries’ walls. Plaque consists of calcium, cholesterol, and fibrous tissues. In the case of atherosclerosis, the arteries block or narrow because of the buildup of plaque on the artery walls.

Other Causes Of Arm Artery Disease

One can suffer from arm artery disease because of many uncommon conditions, which include the following-

  • Buerger’s disease i.e. an inflammation of various nerves and small blood vessels in the feet and hands, which mainly affect smokers
  • Raynaud’s disease, where the hands become highly sensitive to various cold substances and turn your fingers red, blue and white
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome related to repetitive motors, like for instance pitching in a baseball league
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, lupus and other similar types of diseases
  • Embolism i.e. blood clots traveling from a particular body area and blocking the arm’s blood vessels.

In rare cases, you suffer from arm artery disease because of frostbite and radiation therapy for breast cancer, along with repeated injuries to your hand.(5)

What Does A Blocked Artery In Your Arm Feel Like?

Feelings Of Blocked Artery In Arms Depend On Arm Artery Disease Symptoms

If you suffer from arm artery disease, you experience numbness, tightness, cramping, weakness or heaviness and muscle atrophy in your arms. Besides, you have intermittent claudication i.e. pain and discomfort feelings at the time you do exercise. However, the positive thing is that your pain and discomfort stop while you take rest.

With the progress of arm artery disease, you experience red, blue, or pale and cool skin. You fail to identify a pulse in the wrist or notice that your one arm becomes cold as compared to the other one. Such symptoms take place because of the inability of narrowed arteries to supply oxygen in enough amounts to the body muscles. Arm artery disease progresses at a slow rate but at the extreme, it results in increased risks related to stroke, heart attack, and amputation.(6)


Yes, one can have peripheral artery disease in the arms i.e. arm artery disease and the major cause of atherosclerosis. However, feelings depend on underlying symptoms, like tightness, numbness, cramping, and intermittent claudication.


Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 7, 2020

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