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Raynaud Disease

Raynaud Disease


What you need to know about
Raynaud’s Disease

When exposed to cold temperatures or under stress, several parts of your body, including your fingers and toes, become numb and chilly. Smaller arteries that provide blood to your skin narrow due to Raynaud disease, reducing blood flow to the affected areas (vasospasm).

Raynaud disease, sometimes referred to as Raynaud’s or Raynaud’s phenomenon or syndrome, affects more women than males. People who live in colder climates seem to experience it more frequently.

The severity of Raynaud’s disease and any coexisting medical issues will determine how you are treated. Raynaud’s disease generally doesn’t cause permanent disability, but it can lower your quality of life.

Symptoms of Raynaud’s disease

Raynaud’s disease signs and symptoms include:

  • Cold hands or toes
  • Your skin’s colour changes in response to cold or stress.
  • Warmth-induced numbness, prickliness, stinging discomfort, or respite from stress

The initial sign of a Raynaud’s attack is typically a whitening of the skin in the affected areas. Then, they frequently turn blue and experience cold and numbness. The affected areas may become red, throb, tickle, or swell as you warm up and your circulation gets better.

Although your fingers and toes are the parts of your body that are most frequently affected by Raynaud’s, it can also affect your nose, lips, ears, and even your nipples. It may take 15 minutes for the area to resume normal blood flow once you’ve warmed up.

Diagnosing Raynaud Disease

In addition to conducting a physical examination, your doctor will inquire about your symptoms and medical background. In order to rule out any further medical conditions that could be causing your signs and symptoms, your doctor may also conduct testing.

Identifying primary vs. secondary Raynaud’s

In addition to conducting a physical examination, your doctor will inquire about your symptoms and medical background. In order to rule out any further medical conditions that could be causing your signs and symptoms, your doctor may also conduct testing.

Your doctor may do a test known as nail fold capillaroscopy to distinguish between primary and secondary Raynaud’s. Under a microscope or magnifying glass, the doctor examines the skin at the base of your fingernail during the test to check for abnormalities or swelling of the microscopic blood vessels.

Your doctor may probably request blood tests like these if they suspect another condition, like an autoimmune disorder or a connective tissue disease, maybe the cause of your Raynaud’s:

Test for antinuclear antibodies. Testing positive for these antibodies may indicate an activated immune system, which is prevalent in persons with autoimmune diseases or connective tissue diseases.

Erythrocyte sedimentation rate. Using this test, you may find out how quickly red blood cells sink to the bottom of a tube. A higher-than-usual rate could indicate symptoms of an autoimmune or an inflammatory condition.

No single blood test is able to identify Raynaud Disease. Your doctor may request additional tests to assist identify a condition that may be connected to Raynaud’s, such as those that rule out artery problems.

Raynaud Disease Causes

Although doctors are unsure of the exact aetiology of Raynaud’s attacks, it appears that stress or low conditions trigger the blood vessels in the hands and feet to overreact.

Spasms in Blood Vessels

When under stress or exposure to cold, the arteries in your fingers and toes narrow and temporarily restrict blood flow. These tiny arteries may become slightly thicker with time, significantly reducing blood flow.

Attacks are most likely to start in colder weather. The most common trigger is exposure to cold, such as dipping your hands in cold water, pulling something out of the freezer, or breathing cold air. Emotional strain might start an episode in certain people.

Primary vs. secondary Raynaud Disease

The disorder comes in two primary varieties:

  • Primary Raynaud’s Disease. This most prevalent type, often known as Raynaud’s illness, is not brought on by a connected medical condition. Many persons with primary Raynaud’s disease may not seek treatment since it might be so mild. Additionally, it is capable of coming to a conclusion on its own.
  • Secondary Raynaud’s Disease. This kind, which is also known as Raynaud’s phenomenon, is brought on by an underlying issue. Although secondary Raynaud’s is less frequent than primary, it typically has more severe symptoms.

Compared to primary Raynaud’s, secondary Raynaud’s disease signs and symptoms typically begin to manifest around the age of 40.

Raynaud’s disease’s secondary causes include:

  • Disorders of connective tissue. Scleroderma is an uncommon condition that causes the skin to stiffen and scar (the majority of patients suffer from Raynaud’s). The risk of Raynaud’s is further increased by lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjogren’s syndrome.
  • Artery-related diseases. These include a disease that causes the blood vessels in the hands and feet to become inflamed, a plaque buildup in the blood vessels that supply the heart, and a specific type of high blood pressure that affects the arteries in the lungs.
  • Carpal tunnel disorder. This disorder involves pressure on a key hand nerve, resulting in numbness and pain in the hand and possibly increasing sensitivity to cold temperatures.
  • Action or vibration that is repeated. Overuse injuries can result from repetitive actions like typing, playing the piano, or other similar activities as well as using vibrating tools like jackhammers.
  • Smoking. Blood vessels narrow when someone smokes.
  • Injuries to the feet or hands. A wrist fracture, surgery, or frostbite are a few examples.
  • Certain medicines. These include beta blockers for high blood pressure, ergotamine and sumatriptan-containing migraine remedies, ADHD remedies, specific chemotherapy treatments, and pharmaceuticals that constrict blood vessels, such as some over-the-counter cold remedies.

Complications of Raynaud Disease

Reduced blood flow to your fingers or toes could result in tissue damage if secondary Raynaud’s is severe, which is uncommon.

A completely clogged artery might result in dead tissue or sores (skin ulcers), both of which can be challenging to heal. Rarely, severe cases that go untreated might call for the removal of the body part in question.

Risk factors

Primary Raynaud disease risk factors include:

  • Sex. Women are affected more than men.
  • Age. Despite the fact that anyone can get the disease, primary Raynaud’s often starts between the ages of 15 and 30.
  • Climate. People who reside in colder climates are also more likely to suffer from the illness.
  • Family background. A parent, sibling, or kid with the condition appears to raise your risk of developing primary Raynaud’s.

The following are risk factors for secondary Raynaud’s:

  • Associated diseases. These include autoimmune diseases like lupus and scleroderma.
  • Specific professions. These include careers which use vibrating instruments that result in recurrent trauma.
  • Exposure to specific chemicals. This includes using tobacco products, taking blood vessel-disrupting drugs, and being exposed to specific chemicals like vinyl chloride.

How to respond to a Raynaud Disease attack

Warm up the problematic areas, such as your feet or hands. Your fingers and toes should be slightly warmed.

  • Go indoors or somewhere warmer.
  • Your fingers and toes should move.
  • Put your hands in your armpits.
  • Create broad, windmill-like movements with your arms.
  • Your fingers and toes should be covered in warm, not hot, water.
  • Massage your hands and feet

Get out of the stressful setting and relax if tension causes an attack. To minimise the attack, try a stress-relieving technique that suits you and warm your hands or feet in warm water.

Raynaud Disease Prevention

To lessen the risk of Raynaud’s attacks:

  • Wear lots of layers when outside. When it’s cold outside, put on a hat, scarf, socks, boots, two layers of mittens or gloves, and mittens or gloves. To keep cold air from getting to your hands, put on a coat with tight cuffs that fit around your mittens or gloves. Use chemical hand warmers as well. If the tip of your nose and your earlobes are sensitive to cold, put on earmuffs and a face mask.
  • Warm your vehicle. Before you begin a cold-weather drive, turn on the car heater for a short while.
  • Take safety measures indoors. Put on socks. Wear gloves, mittens, or oven mitts while removing food from the freezer or refrigerator. In the winter, some people find it beneficial to wear mittens and socks to bed.

Treatment of Raynaud Disease

Dealing with minor Raynaud’s symptoms typically involves dressing in layers for the cold and putting on gloves or thick socks. More serious versions of the illness can be treated with medications. The objectives of treatment include:

  • Reduce the frequency and intensity of attacks
  • Avoid causing tissue harm
  • The underlying illness or condition must be treated


Medication may be helpful depending on the cause of your symptoms. To expand blood arteries and improve blood flow your doctor can advise you:

  • Blockers of calcium channels. Most patients with Raynaud’s experience fewer, milder symptoms by using medications, which relax and widen the tiny blood arteries in their hands and feet. You can use these medications to treat skin ulcers on your fingers or toes.
  • Vasodilators. In order to treat skin ulcers, nitroglycerin cream (Nitro-Dur) is one of these medications that relax blood vessels.

Medical procedures & Surgeries

  • Nerve surgery. Your hands and feet’s sympathetic nerves regulate the widening and constriction of your skin’s blood vessels. By cutting these nerves, their heightened reactions are stopped. A doctor removes these minuscule nerves that surround the blood vessels by making microscopic incisions in the hands or feet that are afflicted. If this procedure is successful, attacks may be less frequent and last less time.
  • Chemical injection. To stop sympathetic nerves from firing in the affected hands or feet, medical professionals can inject substances such as local anaesthetics or onabotulinumtoxinA (Botox). If the symptoms come back or don’t go away, the surgery might need to be repeated.

Alternative medicine

You might be able to control Raynaud’s by making lifestyle adjustments and taking supplements that promote healthier blood flow. It’s not known how successfully these interventions might help Raynaud’s Disease, though. More research is required. Consult your doctor about the following if you’re curious:

  • Infrared Sauna Therapy. This treatment increases blood flow, which is advantageous for reducing Raynaud’s attacks.
  • Red Light Therapy. This therapy improves blood flow, which helps to lessen Raynaud’s attacks.
  • HBOT. Pure oxygen is breathed in a sealed chamber at pressures greater than those of the atmosphere during a hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT). All body fluids, cells, and tissues, even those with blocked or diminished blood flow, are able to absorb oxygen as a result of this treatment.
  • Compression therapy. Raynaud’s patients typically use compression therapy to improve overall blood flow and support a healthy vascular system since they have weak circulation. There is evidence to suggest that compression therapy can reduce Raynaud’s phenomenon-related vascular spasms.
  • Omega 3 Fish oil. Supplementing with fish oil may increase your resistance to cold.
  • Ginkgo. Supplements containing ginkgo may reduce the frequency of Raynaud’s episodes.
  • Acupuncture. The improvement in blood flow that this exercise seems to bring about may assist to lessen Raynaud’s attacks.
  • Biofeedback. It may be possible to lessen the severity and frequency of episodes by using mental temperature control. Deep breathing exercises, guided imagery to raise the warmth of the hands and feet, and other relaxing techniques are all included in biofeedback. Your doctor might be able to recommend a local therapist who can assist you in becoming familiar with biofeedback methods. On the topic, there are books and movies.


Although Raynaud disease cannot kill you, it can severely restrict blood flow to your skin and cause tissue damage. A completely blocked artery might result in dead tissue (gangrene) or sores on the skin (ulcers). Although it’s unlikely, the doctor might have to amputate a finger or toe if this occurs.