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Raynaud's phenomenon

Raynaud's phenomenon: Introduction

Raynaud's phenomenon is a condition in which there are spasms, constriction and narrowing of the capillaries of the fingers and toes. Capillaries are the smallest arteries that supply vital oxygen and nutrients to cells and tissues.

A steady supply of oxygen and nutrients are critical to the health of the cells and tissues of the fingers and toes. Narrowing of the blood vessels that occurs in Raynaud's phenomenon interferes with this supply. This is called ischemia. In ischemia, cells are unable to reproduce normally, recover effectively from injury, and fight infection. This leads to the symptoms and complications of Raynaud's phenomenon. These include color changes, cold fingers and toes, and the development of sores or lesions that do not heal. If Raynaud's phenomenon is left untreated, gangrene (tissue death) can occur. Less commonly, Raynaud's phenomenon can also cause symptoms and complications in the nose, lips, and earlobes. For more information on symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of Raynaud's phenomenon.

Raynaud's phenomenon is believed to be an autoimmune disorder. In an autoimmune disease the body's immune system mistakes healthy tissues as foreign and potentially dangerous invaders into the body and attacks them. Underlying diseases and disorders that can cause Raynaud's phenomenon include certain autoimmune disorders, such as scleroderma, systemic lupus erythematosus, and rheumatoid arthritis. If the cause is unknown, the condition is called Raynaud's disease or primary Raynaud's.

People at risk for Raynaud's phenomenon include people with underlying diseases or behaviors that cause damage or narrowing of the blood vessels. These include smoking, high cholesterol, and atherosclerosis. Raynaud's phenomenon can also be caused by medications that cause constriction of the blood vessels, such as beta blockers, certain migraine medications, cold and allergy drugs, birth control pills, and certain cancer drugs. Raynaud's phenomenon occurs most in women between 15 and 40 years of age.

Making a diagnosis of Raynaud's phenomenon includes completing a thorough medical history, including symptoms, and a physical examination. A diagnosis of Raynaud's disease can often be made based on symptoms and an exam.

A battery of other tests may also be performed if it is suspected that another disease or disorder is causing Raynaud's phenomenon.

It is possible that a diagnosis of Raynaud's phenomenon can be missed or delayed because the symptoms may be mild, assumed to be normal, and similar to symptoms of other conditions. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of Raynaud's phenomenon.

If caught early, Raynaud's phenomenon can often be successfully treated before the development of complications. Treatment varies depending on the specific type of Raynaud's phenomenon. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of Raynaud's phenomenon. ...more »

Raynaud's phenomenon: A disorder of the small blood vessels of the extremities, causing coldness and reduced blood flow. In response to cold or anxiety, these vessels go ... more about Raynaud's phenomenon.

Raynaud's phenomenon: Blood vessel constriction attacks affecting fingers and/or toes. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Raynaud's phenomenon is available below.

Raynaud's phenomenon: Symptoms

Symptoms and complications of Raynaud's phenomenon are due to constricted and narrowed capillaries, which lead to an insufficient supply of oxygen and nutrients to cells and tissues in the fingers and toes. Less commonly, Raynaud's phenomenon can also cause symptoms and complications in the nose, lips, and earlobes.

Symptoms can be triggered by exposure to cold air, stress ...more symptoms »

Raynaud's phenomenon: Treatments

The most effective treatment plan for Raynaud's phenomenon employs a multifaceted approach. This includes preventive care aimed at minimizing the risk factors and underlying causes of Raynaud's phenomenon. Preventive measures include regular medical care to monitor for and treat high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, hypertension and atherosclerosis. Treatment includes diet ...more treatments »

Raynaud's phenomenon: Misdiagnosis

Raynaud's phenomenon frequently goes undiagnosed because the symptoms are often attributed to simply having cold hands and feet. In addition, symptoms of Raynaud's phenomenon are similar to symptoms of other conditions and diseases, such as aging, Buerger's disease, perimenopause, and hypothyroidism. ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Raynaud's phenomenon

Treatments for Raynaud's phenomenon

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical testing related to Raynaud's phenomenon:

Wrongly Diagnosed with Raynaud's phenomenon?

Raynaud's phenomenon: Related Patient Stories

Alternative Treatments for Raynaud's phenomenon

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Raynaud's phenomenon may include:

  • Dress warmly with many layers
  • Keep extremities extra protected
  • Foot powder
  • more treatments »

Types of Raynaud's phenomenon

  • Primary Raynaud's phenomenon - most common form; of unknown causes without an underlying cause.
  • Secondary Raynaud's phenomenon - caused by another condition such as lupus or scleroderma.
  • Vibration-induced white finger - caused by vibrating tools
  • more types...»

Diagnostic Tests for Raynaud's phenomenon

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Raynaud's phenomenon: Complications

Review possible medical complications related to Raynaud's phenomenon:

Causes of Raynaud's phenomenon

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Disease Topics Related To Raynaud's phenomenon

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Raynaud's phenomenon:

Raynaud's phenomenon: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and Raynaud's phenomenon

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Raynaud's phenomenon: Research Doctors & Specialists

Research related physicians and medical specialists:

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Evidence Based Medicine Research for Raynaud's phenomenon

Medical research articles related to Raynaud's phenomenon include:

Click here to find more evidence-based articles on the TRIP Database

Raynaud's phenomenon: Animations

Prognosis for Raynaud's phenomenon

Research about Raynaud's phenomenon

Visit our research pages for current research about Raynaud's phenomenon treatments.

Clinical Trials for Raynaud's phenomenon

The US based website lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on for Raynaud's phenomenon include:

Prevention of Raynaud's phenomenon

Prevention information for Raynaud's phenomenon has been compiled from various data sources and may be inaccurate or incomplete. None of these methods guarantee prevention of Raynaud's phenomenon.

Statistics for Raynaud's phenomenon

Raynaud's phenomenon: Broader Related Topics

Raynaud's phenomenon Message Boards

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Article Excerpts about Raynaud's phenomenon

Handout on Health Scleroderma: NIAMS (Excerpt)

A disorder of the small blood vessels of the extremities, causing coldness and reduced blood flow. In response to cold or anxiety, these vessels go into spasms, causing pain, the sensations of burning and tingling, and color changes. (Source: excerpt from Handout on Health Scleroderma: NIAMS)

Questions and Answers about Raynaud's Phenomenon: NIAMS (Excerpt)

Raynaud's phenomenon is a disorder that affects the blood vessels in the fingers, toes, ears, and nose. This disorder is characterized by episodic attacks, called vasospastic attacks, that cause the blood vessels in the digits (fingers and toes) to constrict (narrow). Raynaud's phenomenon can occur on its own, or it can be secondary to another condition such as scleroderma or lupus. (Source: excerpt from Questions and Answers about Raynaud's Phenomenon: NIAMS)

NHLBI, Raynaud's Phenomenon: NHLBI (Excerpt)

Raynaud's Phenomenon is a Disorder of the small blood vessels that feed the skin. During an attack of Raynaud's, these arteries contract briefly, limiting blood flow. This is called a vasospasm. Deprived of the blood's oxygen, the skin first turns white then blue. The skin turns red as the arteries relax and blood flows again. Extremities--hands and feet--are most commonly affected, but Raynaud's can attack other areas such as the nose and ears. (Source: excerpt from NHLBI, Raynaud's Phenomenon: NHLBI)

Raynauds Phenomenon: NWHIC (Excerpt)

Raynaud’s phenomenon is a disorder that affects the blood vessels in the fingers, toes, ears, and nose. This disorder is characterized by episodic attacks, called vasospastic attacks, that cause the blood vessels in the digits (fingers and toes) to constrict (narrow). (Source: excerpt from Raynauds Phenomenon: NWHIC)

Definitions of Raynaud's phenomenon:

WHAT: Raynaud's phenomenon. Raynaud's Phenomenon: the paroxysmal constriction of the small arteries and arterioles of the hands or feet, usually precipitated by cold or emotional upset, resulting in pallor and cyanosis of the fingers or toes following a characteristic pattern. WHY: Raynaud's phenomenon may occur in mixed connective tissue disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, progressive systemic sclerosis, poly- myositis/dermatomyositis, and rheumatoid arthritis associated with Sjogren's syndrome. HOW: In Raynaud's phenomenon there are three classic color changes of the fingers or toes. First, vasoconstriction results in a white blanching of the fingertips. Second, vasodilatation with sludging of vascular flow follows and results in blue, cyanotic digits. Finally, with recovery, there is increased blood flow with resulting erythema of the fingers. With observation of two of the three color changes, Raynaud's phenomenon is considered present. Local body cooling (by placing the hands in ice cold water) may demonstrate Raynaud's phenomenon, but some cases require general body cooling before the characteristic color phases occur. Permanent tissue damage can be induced by this testing, which therefore must be done only when absolutely necessary. If the digits show persistent cyanosis or there is evidence of pre-existing necrosis, performing this test is especially hazardous. One or more digits may be involved in Raynaud's phenomenon, and this involvement may be unilateral. REFS: 1) Spittell, JA: "Raynaud's phenomenon and allied vasospastic disorders". In Juergens, JL et al. (eds.): Peripheral Vascular Diseases, pp. 555-83. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Co., 1980. 2) Porter, JM; Snider, RL; Bardana, EJ; Rosch, J and Eidemiller, LR: The diagnosis and treatment of Raynaud's phenomenon. Surgery 77:11, 1975. DN19300-3. - (Source - Diseases Database)


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