Raynaud’s phenomenon is a problem that causes decreased blood flow to the fingers. In
some cases, it also causes less blood flow to the ears, toes, nipples, knees, or nose.
This happens because of spasms of blood vessels in those areas. The spasms happen in
response to cold, stress, or emotional upset.
Raynaud’s can occur on its own, known as primary form. Or it may happen along with other diseases, known as secondary form. The diseases most often linked with Raynaud’s are autoimmune or connective tissue diseases such as:
primary form of Raynaud’s is the most common type. It often starts between ages 15 and
25. It’s less severe than secondary Raynaud’s. People with primary Raynaud’s don't often
develop a related condition. Secondary Raynaud's often develops later in midlife,
between ages 35 and 40.
Doctors don't know the exact cause of Raynaud’s. It's possible that some blood
disorders may cause Raynaud’s by increasing the blood thickness. This may happen from
extra platelets or red blood cells. Or special receptors in the blood that control the
narrowing of the blood vessels may be more sensitive.
Certain factors can increase your risk for Raynaud's. They include:
Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each person. Common symptoms include:
healthcare provider will ask about your health history and do a physical exam. Your
provider may also do a cold challenge test. This is done to see the color changes in the
hands and fingers. During the test, your hands are exposed to cold. Your healthcare
provider may also look at the tiny blood vessels in your fingernails with a microscope.
Adults who start to have Raynaud’s phenomenon after age 35 may be tested for an
underlying disease. You may have blood tests to see if your condition is primary or
Treatment will depend on your symptoms, your age, and your general health. It will also
depend on how severe the condition is. There is no cure for Raynaud’s phenomenon. But it
can be managed with correct treatment. Treatment may include:
Talk with your healthcare providers about the risks, benefits, and possible side effects of all medicines.
severe cases, you may have sores on finger pads. These sores may progress to gangrene.
In rare cases, gangrene may lead to finger amputation.
most people living with Raynaud’s, it is more of an inconvenience than a serious
problem. Attacks may last from minutes to more than an hour. Staying away from triggers,
mainly cold, can reduce the spasms that lead to symptoms. If there is an underlying
cause, such as scleroderma or lupus, it may be harder to manage attacks. If you have
secondary Raynaud’s, work with your healthcare provider to manage your underlying
condition. This may decrease attacks of Raynaud’s.
If your symptoms get worse or you have new symptoms, let your healthcare provider know.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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