Raynaud’s Disease aka Raynaud’s Phenomenon

raynauds phenomenon

What is Raynaud’s Disease?

Raynaud’s Disease is a local spasm of the small arteries that supply blood to the the fingers and toes. Episodes may be triggered by cold exposure or stress. It can be seen in association with many Rheumatic Diseases most commonly with Scleroderma. When it occurs in the absence of another Rheumatologic disease it is called Raynaud’s Syndrome or Raynaud’s Phenomenon.

What are the symptoms of Raynaud’s Disease?

When exposed to a sudden change in temperature fingers will become severely blanched or white and painful, this is due to the spasm of the arteries resulting in lack of blood flow. If this spasm is prolonged the skin may turn blue due to cyanosis. Finally, when rewarmed the digits become red due to the excess flow of blood to oxygenate the tissues of the fingers. The tip of the nose may also be rarely involved. Ulceration of the finger pads is uncommon and in extreme cases gangrene may develop.

How is Raynaud’s Disease diagnosed?

The diagnosis of Raynaud’s Disease is typically made by the history of sudden onset painful blanching fingertips. The question then becomes if the Raynaud’s is part of another Rheumatic Disease or is occurring by itself.

How is Raynaud’s Disease treated?

The principal concern in the management of Raynaud’s Disease is to determine if it is part of another Rheumatic Disease and treat that accordingly. There are many non-pharmacologic treatment strategies available to decrease the frequency and intensity of the Raynaud’s Disease episodes such as dressing appropriately, avoiding caffeine, and quitting smoking. There are some blood pressure medicines that can decrease the severity of the Vasospasm that causes Raynaud’s Disease attacks.