Raynaud’s phenomenon causes blood vessels in your extremities to narrow in cold temperatures or during emotional excitement or stress — called a Raynaud’s attack. Most often, it occurs in your hands, fingers, feet, or toes, but it can also affect your lips, tongue, nose, or chin.
When blood circulation in your body is reduced, it can cause these areas to turn white or blue, accompanied by pain, tingling, or numbness. Once blood flow is restored, the affected area may be painful and turn red. In severe instances, which are rare, reduced blood flow can lead to sores and damaged tissue.
Raynaud’s phenomenon can occur on its own (primary) or as a result of something else (secondary), such as a disease that affects blood flow (like lupus or scleroderma), medications, or injuries. Primary Raynaud’s is more common in women and in those who live in cold climates.
Your care team will educate you about Raynaud's attack triggers, such as cold weather, stress, medicines, chemicals, or certain activities. Lifestyle changes can include a variety of approaches, such as:
- Protecting yourself from the cold
- Managing stress
- Avoiding smoking and second-hand smoke
- Limiting alcohol and caffeine
- Wearing protective gear to avoid chemicals or other triggers while at work
- Limiting repetitive hand motions
- Exercising regularly to improve circulation
When lifestyle changes aren’t enough to manage symptoms, your doctor may prescribe medicine to improve blood flow and circulation, such as calcium-channel blockers, alpha-receptor blockers, and medicines that relax blood vessels.
In severe cases that don’t respond to medicine and threaten tissue, your doctor may recommend surgery. Doctors use surgery to open narrowed blood vessels or block the nerves that are causing the blood vessels to narrow. In some instances, doctors use injections rather than surgery to block nerves.
Cold Stimulation Test
This test brings on Raynaud's symptoms and measures your response to cold temperatures. A small temperature measurement device is attached to your fingers, which are submerged briefly in ice water. The device measures how long it takes for your fingers to return to a normal temperature. For those with Raynaud's, it can take more than 20 minutes to warm up.
Your doctor may use tests that look for conditions that can cause Raynaud’s phenomenon, including:
- Blood tests such as erythrocyte sedimentation rate, C-reactive protein test, and antinuclear antibodies test (antibodies associated with lupus)
- Nailfold capillaroscopy, a test in which your doctor examines the base of your nail under a microscope to look for signs of abnormal blood vessels
Why Choose UHealth?
The latest treatments for Raynaud’s phenomenon. In addition to treating patients, our doctors are also researchers committed to improving health care. That means you receive care from specialists who are knowledgeable about the latest medical advancements.
Comprehensive care from a team of specialists. Raynaud’s phenomenon can be caused by another condition or from certain medicines, so our rheumatologists work with doctors in a full range of medical specialties to help you relieve symptoms. You get comprehensive, coordinated care from a team that’s focused on your overall health.
Expert guidance to help you manage symptoms and improve your quality of life. There are a variety of lifestyle changes you can make that can minimize your symptoms, such as regular exercise, keeping warm and dry, avoiding smoking, and managing stress. Your team will educate you about how to reduce the number and severity of attacks, as well as help you prevent damage to the affected areas.
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