Raynaud’s Disease

What is Raynaud’s Disease?

Raynaud’s Disease (also Raynaud’s phenomenon or Raynaud’s syndrome) is an autoimmune disease that is characterized by color changes, loss of sensation and pain in the fingers and toes. It is classified as primary or secondary.

Primary Raynaud’s is thought to be at least partly congenital, but the cause is not fully understood. In both types the blood vessels in the affected areas become narrower (vasospasm) and circulation is drastically reduced. It strikes females more often than males and those in cooler locations.

The causes of secondary Raynaud’s syndrome can be far more serious and may include:

What are the Symptoms of Raynaud’s Disease?

The symptoms of Raynaud’s disease vary according to the severity of whatever it is that triggers the vasospasms. Symptoms may include:

  • Chilled fingers and/or toes
  • Fingers and/or toes go from pale to bluish or grayish
  • Fingers and/or toes become red and inflamed when circulation resumes
  • Stinging, prickly, throbbing and/or painful sensations while warming or when anxiety is relieved

How is Raynaud’s Disease Treated?

Treating secondary Raynaud’s syndrome involves treating the underlying cause. In any case, it is extremely important to prevent tissue damage by making specific lifestyle changes and avoiding triggers. Treatment may include:

  • Keeping the hands and feet warm and protected
  • Exercises to improve circulation to fingers and toes
  • Prescription medications to enlarge blood vessels and boost circulation
  • Chemical nerve block injections
  • Stress avoidance
  • Smoking cessation
  • Caffeine avoidance
  • Surgery (sympathectomy)
  • Amputation is rare
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Last Reviewed:
October 09, 2016
Last Updated:
August 22, 2017