Raynaud’s phenomenon, also known as Raunaud’s syndrome, Raynaud’s disease and ‘Raynaud’s’, is a condition that affects the blood supply. Raynaud’s phenomenon symptoms happen when the blood vessels go into spasm, restricting blood supply, affecting the extremities. The most common body parts to be affected by Raynaud’s are the fingers and toes.
Raynaud’s phenomenon can cause the the affected area to change colour – turning white and then blue and red as the blood supply returns. This can be painful and cause pins and needles and numbness. When I experience Raynaud’s, alongside these symptoms, it feels like there are blocks of ice inside the affected area.
There are two types or Raynaud’s phenomenon. Primary and secondary. Primary Raynaud’s is the most common type and developed naturally. Secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon is caused by another health condition. In my case, Raynaud’s has occurred as a result of my Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.
Cold temperatures are the most common cause of Raynaud’s phenomenon, but stress and anxiety can also contribute.
GPs can diagnose Raynaud’s and may order some tests (like a blood test) to determine if there is another condition causing it. This can help with managing the condition.
Usually, Raynaud’s can be managed with lifestyle changes, but sometimes medication is required. There can be additional difficulties with secondary Raynaud’s, depending on the condition that it is caused by. In some cases, the lack of blood to the extremities can lead to complications, such as ulcers and, in severe cases, tissue death. If you think you may be at risk of this, please speak with your doctor.
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Useful resources –
Raynaud’s Phenomenon, NHS Choices. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Raynauds-phenomenon/Pages/Introduction.aspx. NHS Choices. 03/03/15.
Raynaud’s, Scleroderma & Raynaud’s UK. https://www.sruk.co.uk/raynauds/. Scleroderma & Raynaud’s UK. © SRUK 2016.