Raynaud’s Information

Raynaud’s disease or phenomenon (pronounce ray-noze) is a condition that makes it harder for blood to reach certain areas of the body. This happens because blood vessels under the skin tighten. When blood does not reach parts of the body, these areas may turn blue and feel cold.

Most often Raynaud’s phenomenon affects the fingers and toes. It can also affect the ears and nose. Raynaud’s disease or phenomenon is a condition that has an effect on circulation in the extremities (i.e. fingers and toes). In a person with Raynaud’s when his or her skin is exposed to cold or the person becomes emotionally upset, the blood vessels under the skin tighten and the blood flow slow. This is called “vasospasm.” Hands and feet have fewer large blood vessels and, therefore when a vasospasm occurs, it is harder for the blood to keep flowing and these areas may turn blue because less oxygen is reaching the skin.

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The skin will also feel cold because less blood is reaching the skin to keep it warm. While attack of vasospasm may last from minutes to hours, only rarely do they cause severe tissue damage. Raynaud’s disease can be classified as one of two types: primary (or idiopathic) and secondary (also called Raynaud’s phenomenon).

Primary Raynaud’s disease has no predisposing factor, is milder, and causes fewer complications. About half of all cases of Raynaud’s disease are of this type. Women are nine times more likely than men to develop primary Raynaud’s disease. The average age of diagnosis is between 20 and 40 years. Secondary Raynaud’s disease is the same as primary Raynaud’s disease, but occurs in individuals with a predisposing factor, What is typically identified as primary Raynaud’s is later identified as secondary once a predisposing disease is diagnosed.

As a result, the secondary type is often more complicated and severe, and is more likely to worsen. Several related conditions that predispose persons to secondary Raynaud’s disease include scleroderma, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis and polymyositis. Pulmonary hypertension and some nervous system disorders such as herniated discs and tumors within the spinal column, strokes, and polio can progress to Raynaud’s disease.

Finally, injuries due to mechanical trauma caused by vibration (such as that associated with chain saws and jackhammers), repetitive motion (carpal tunnel syndrome), electrical shock, and exposure to extreme cold can lead to the development of Raynaud’s disease. Some drugs used to control high blood pressure or migraine headaches have been known to cause Raynaud’s disease.

The prevalence of Reynaud’s Phenomena in the general population varies 5 -10% While coffee will not cause Raynaud’s, caffeine does constrict the blood vessels, and Raynaud’s patients are therefore advised to restrict coffee consumption. There are certain chemicals/drugs/toxins that are considered potential causative or aggravating factors. They include: Chemotheraperutic agents, interferon, estrogen, nicotine, narcotics, sympatheomimetic agents, cyclosporine, cocaine, polyvinyl chloride, ergotamines, and clinidine. Chemotherapy can also in some cases be associated with Raynaud’s