16 Mar What is Raynauds Disease?
Do You Have Raynaud’s Disease?
Do your fingers and toes often feel cold and numb? If this happens a lot, you might have a condition called Raynaud’s disease, Raynaud’s phenomenon or Raynaud’s syndrome. More than 3 million people a year come down with symptoms of this condition. What causes it, and how can a podiatrist help you manage it? Here’s what you need to know.
What Is Raynaud’s Disease?
Raynaud’s disease is a temporary constriction of the blood vessels that carry blood to your skin. This constriction is called a vasospasm. When it happens, the skin on your fingers and toes can’t get warm enough to function properly.
This constriction can last a day, several months or several years. If the syndrome seems to come out of nowhere, doctors refer to it as primary Raynaud’s. If it’s the result of another underlying condition, they call it secondary Raynaud’s.
The disease is named for French doctor Maurice Raynaud, who first diagnosed it in 1862. It’s pronounced “ray nose.”
What Are the Causes of Raynaud’s Disease?
Primary Raynaud’s: Scientists aren’t sure what causes primary Raynaud’s. You’re more likely to develop it if you’re a woman, you’re under 30, or it runs in your family. Primary Raynaud’s tends to be less severe than secondary Raynaud’s. Some people suffer numb fingers and toes when the weather turns cold, but most have symptoms so mild they don’t bother getting medical help for them.
Secondary Raynaud’s: This is more serious. People with secondary Raynaud’s often report extremely sharp pain and fingers or toes that “freeze up.” In most cases, the cause is autoimmune disorders such as lupus, scleroderma or rheumatoid arthritis.
Other causes include heart disease, carpal tunnel syndrome, connective tissue disorders like Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, heavy smoking, obesity, and frostbite. Secondary Raynaud’s frequently accompanies the work-related condition “white finger,” which is caused by long-term use of industrial machinery.
What Are the Symptoms of Raynaud’s Disease?
- Fingers and toes that feel cold and stiff.
- Sharp, tingling pain in your hands and feet.
- White and blue skin patches that appear when your fingers or toes get cold.
- Symptoms that increase during cold temperatures or stressful situations.
What Are the Treatments for Raynaud’s Syndrome?
There is no cure for Raynaud’s syndrome. If you have primary Raynaud’s, you can control your symptoms by using the following tips.
- Avoid direct contact with cold items. Use gloves or oven mitts when touching frozen foods and cup sleeves when drinking cold beverages.
- Exercise regularly to improve blood flow.
- Avoid smoking, caffeine and other activities that cause blood vessels to constrict.
- Try to avoid putting your body through extreme temperature changes. If you’re going from a warm day to a place with air conditioning, bring a wrap or sweater. If you’re leaving your warm house to go outside, put on several warm layers first.
- Use wool socks and hand warmers even if you’re indoors.
If you have secondary Raynaud’s, you must treat or manage the primary condition. The tips above can help ease your Raynaud’s symptoms while you develop a plan to better manage the underlying condition that’s causing your Raynaud’s.
How a Podiatrist Can Help
If you don’t treat a severe case of Raynaud’s, it can lead to complications that include ulcers, scarring, tissue death, and even gangrene. It’s also important to get help because your symptoms might be related to an underlying condition.
If you have severe Raynaud’s symptoms in your toes, make an appointment with a podiatrist to talk about the problem. Try to keep track of when the symptoms hit you, what seems to trigger them and what you’re doing to manage them. A foot care doctor can give you the right diagnosis and treatment plan.
Discover Why We’re Loudoun County’s Favorite Podiatry Practice
At Shuman Podiatry & Sports Medicine, we treat all types of toe and foot disorders. If you’re feeling extremely cold and numbness in your toes, come and in and talk to us today.