The brachial artery is the blood vessel that transports blood between the shoulder and elbow. Pain throughout the area is one symptom of an obstruction and arm artery disease.
Arm artery disease is a form of peripheral artery disease (PAD) and occurs when an arm artery is obstructed, usually a result of the condition known as atherosclerosis. This accumulation of fatty substances clogs and hardens an artery before breaking into tiny pieces called plaque causing further obstruction.
Warning signals of the condition are often clandestine. “You may not feel any symptoms from mild arm artery disease,” according to The Society for Vascular Surgery. A common initial symptom is discomfort or pain in the arm that occurs during use and disappears at rest.
Additional symptoms for brachial artery obstruction include sensitivity to cold, discoloration as fingers turn pale or blue, lack of pulse in the wrist, bluish or slow-growing finger nails, arm hair reduction, and a loss of muscle strength.
Sores or gangrene may develop as a brachial artery obstruction becomes more severe or is left untreated. Gangrene brings about tissue death as cells are starved of oxygen.
The Baylor College of Medicine says “Arm artery disease primarily affects cigarette smokers and people older than 60.” Caucasians, males, diabetics, and those with high cholesterol or high blood pressure are at greater risk of developing a brachial artery obstruction.