Have you ever heard about Raynaud’s disease? Not really! This disease causes some areas of your body like- fingers and toes to feel numb and cold in response to cold temperatures or stress. It changes the skin color first in white then it changes in blue. In Raynaud’s disease, smaller arteries which supply blood to your skin becomes narrow, limiting blood circulation to affected areas (vasospasm).
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What is Raynaud’s Disease?
Raynaud’s disease is an occasional disorder of the blood vessels, it basically happens in the fingers and toes. When this disease happens, blood can’t get to the surface of the skin and the affected areas turn white and blue.
Although women are more likely than men to have Raynaud’s disease, it is also known as Raynaud or Raynaud’s phenomenon or syndrome. It begins to be more common in people who live in colder climates.
Raynaud’s Disease Types:
There are two types of Raynaud’s disease:
1. Primary Raynaud’s
It is a very common disease, and it affects people who do not have a secondary medical condition.
2. Secondary Raynaud’s
It results from an underlying medical issue. It is less common and tends to be more serious.
Raynaud’s Disease Symptoms:
Usually, this disease affects the areas of your skin, your skin first turns to white and then it gradually turn blue and you might feel cold and numb. When you get warmth and the blood circulation improves, the affected areas may turn in to red, throb, tingle or swell.
Although Raynaud’s most commonly affects the fingers and toes, it can also affect other areas of your body, like- nose, lips, ears, and even nipples.
There are a few symptoms of the disease:
1. Cold fingers or toes
2. Color changes of your skin in response to cold or stress
4. Prickly feeling or stinging pain upon warming or stress relief.
What are the Causes of Raynaud’s Disease?
There are some causes of Raynaud’s disease:
1. Connective Tissue Diseases:
Many people who have a rare disease which leads to hardening and scarring of the skin (scleroderma) have Raynaud’s. Other diseases which increase the risk of Raynaud’s include lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjogren’s syndrome.
2. Diseases of the Arteries:
These include a buildup of plaques in blood vessels which feed the heart, a disorder in which the blood vessels of the hands and feet become inflamed and a high blood pressure which affects the arteries of the lungs (primary pulmonary hypertension).
3. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
This condition involves pressure on a major nerve to your hand, producing numbness and pain in the hand which can make the hand more susceptible to cold temperatures.
4. Repetitive Action or Vibration:
Typing, playing piano or doing similar movements for long periods and operating vibrating tools, like- jackhammers, can lead to overuse injuries.
Smoking is very dangerous to our health, it works slowly and steadily. Smoking tightens our blood vessels.
6. Injuries to the Hands or Feet:
Injuries include wrist fracture, surgery or frostbite.
7. Certain Medications
It includes beta blockers, used to treat high BP, migraine medications which carry ergotamine or sumatriptan; attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder medications. Certain chemotherapy agents and drugs which causes blood vessels to narrow, like- some over-the-counter cold medications.
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What are the Risk Factors of Raynaud’s Disease?
Risk factors for primary Raynaud’s include:
In this disease, more women than men are affected. Sex drive is reduced in women.
However, anyone can develop the condition, primary Raynaud’s often begins between the ages of 15 and 30.
The disorder is also very common in people who live in colder climates.
4. Family History
A first-degree relative, a parent, sibling or child having the disease appears to increase the risk of primary Raynaud’s.
Risk Factors for Secondary Raynaud’s include:
1. Related Diseases:
These include conditions such as scleroderma and lupus.
2. Certain Occupations:
These include jobs which cause repetitive trauma, like operating tools that vibrate.
3. Exposure to Certain Substances:
Including smoking, taking medications which affect the blood vessels and being exposed to certain chemicals, like – vinyl chloride.
What are the Complications of Raynaud’s Disease?
Chilblains start when there is a problem with the blood circulation, and Raynaud’s is one possible cause. The skin embellishes itchy, red, and swollen and it may feel hot, burning, and tender. Chilblains usually resolve in 1 to 2 weeks, but they can come back easily. Keeping the extremities warm can help to prevent them.
How to Prevent Raynaud’s Disease?
Bundle Up Outdoors:
When it’s cold, don a hat, scarf, socks, and boots, with two layers of mittens or gloves before you go outside. Wear a warm coat with snug cuffs to go around your mittens or gloves, to prevent cold air from reaching your hands.
Use of Chemical Hand Warmers:
Wear a face mask and earmuffs if the tip of your nose and your earlobes are sensitive to cold.
Take Precautions Indoors
When taking food out of the refrigerator or freezer, wear gloves, mittens or oven mitts. A few people find it helpful to wear mittens and socks to bed during winter.
What is the Treatment of Raynaud’s Disease?
The treatment is based on medications and surgery. Proper medications could cure the disease and if medications are not satisfying to you, the surgery is the only option for this.
Supportive nerves in your hands and feet control the opening and narrowing of blood vessels in your skin. Cutting these nerves interrupts their exaggerated responses.
Via small incisions in the affected hands or feet, a doctor strips these tiny nerves around the blood vessels. With the help of this treatment, it may reduce the frequency and duration of attacks.
A surgeon can inject chemicals like- local anesthetics or onabotulinumtoxin type A (Botox) to block sympathetic nerves in affected areas of hands or feet.
As we have talked about Raynaud’s disease and its types, causes, symptoms, risk factors, complications and more importantly the treatment, the best way to cure this disease is self-care. Take proper medications on time if it doesn’t work then immediately consult a doctor.
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