Raynaud phenomenon (also called Raynaud disease or Raynaud syndrome) is a rare circulation disorder that affects the hands and feet. It causes the small arteries in the fingers and toes to tighten or spasm. It occurs more often in women than in men, and especially to those living in cold climates.
What Causes Raynaud Phenomenon?
The cause of Raynaud phenomenon is unknown. It can be a side effect of other conditions, such as connective tissue disease, trauma, or diseases of the glands or central nervous system. Episodes are triggered by smoking, cold weather, stress, or vibrating workplace machinery.
The symptoms of Raynaud phenomenon occur in stages. During the first stage of arterial spasm, the skin becomes cold and turns a blotchy combination of white and blue because surface circulation is compromised. After the spasm stops, the skin becomes flushed or reddened and numb or tingly. An episode may last minutes to hours.
Raynaud phenomenon can sometimes be prevented by keeping the hands and feet warm in cold weather and by submerging them in warm water at the first sign of an episode.
The treatment for Raynaud Phenomenon involves gradual warming of the fingers and toes to restore blood flow. Medicines that may be prescribed include vasodilators, pain relievers, and calcium channel blockers. Quitting smoking, avoiding cold temperatures, and decreasing stress will often reduce the number of episodes.
Texas Heart Institute www.texasheartinstitute.com/HIC/Topics/Cond/pvd.cfm
Medline Plus www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/raynaudsdisease.html
American Heart Association www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4687