The cause of Raynaud’s disease is still unclear but blood vessels in the feet and hands tend to overreact to stress and cold temperature.
Your blood vessels will narrow and will temporarily limit the supply of blood and these arteries may even thicken that will further limit the blood flow.
If you put your feet and hands in cold water or taking something out of the freezer will trigger an attack but for some people emotional stress can also trigger an attack.
The two main types of Raynaud’s disease are:
Also known as Raynaud’s disease is the result of an underlying medical condition which can lead to vasospasm;
Also known as Raynaud’s phenomenon that can appear around age 40 and is the result of serious underlying condition.
The causes of secondary Raynaud’s disease include:
diseases of the arteries – if you have a disorder in which the blood vessels of the hands and feet will become inflamed (Buerger’s disease) or a buildup of plaques in blood vessels that feed the heart (atherosclerosis) or even primary pulmonary hypertension which is a type of high blood pressure that affects the arteries of the lungs;
connective tissue diseases – diseases such as scleroderma which is the hardening and scarring of the skin, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome and lupus;
repetitive action or vibration – if you are playing piano, typing, operating vibrating tools and doing similar movements for long periods will increase your chance to have Raynaud’s disease; carpal tunnel syndrome – if you have median nerve that produces numbness and pain in the affected hand which may trigger attacks of Raynaud’s disease;
injuries – injuries to the feet and hands such as frostbite or surgery or wrist fracture;
smoking – because it constricts blood vessels;
certain medications – such as migraine medications that have ergotamine or sumatriptan, beta blockers, chemotherapy agents, ADHD medications and drugs that cause blood vessels to narrow.
4 Making a Diagnosis
There is no single test for Raynaud’s disease diagnosis.
Consult your doctor if you have the symptoms of Raynaud’s disease. He may refer you to a rheumatologist who specializes in bones, joints and muscle disorders.
Make a list of all the symptoms that you are having and the medications, supplements and vitamins that you are taking. You can also write the other medical conditions that you had.
Some of the questions that you can ask your doctor include:
What is causing my symptoms?
Is this primary or secondary?
Am I at risk of complications?
How can I reduce the risk of the attacks?
What treatments are available?
Your doctor will also ask questions such as:
When did you notice the symptoms?
What seems to be the trigger factor?
Has anyone else in your family been diagnosed with Raynaud’s disease?
Do you smoke?
Do you use caffeine?
What do you do for a living or for recreation?
Your doctor will first conduct a physical exam and may recommend tests to rule out other medical problems with similar signs and symptoms.
Your doctor may perform an in office test called capillaroscopy to distinguish primary and secondary Raynaud’s.
Your doctor will examine you nail fold under a microscope then tiny blood vessels (capillaries) near the nail fold that are enlarged or deformed may indicate an underlying disease. Your doctor may order blood tests if he suspects other medical conditions such as:
antinuclear antibodies test – this may indicate a stimulated immune system and is common in people who have connective tissue diseases or other autoimmune disorders and this is done by testing the presence of antibodies that is produced by your immune system;
erythrocyte sedimentation rate – to check the rate at which red blood cells settle at the bottom of a tube.
The treatments for Raynaud’s disease have goals that are to:
reduce the number and severity of attacks,
prevent tissue damage,
treat the underlying condition or cause.
Calcium channel blockers such as nifedipine (Afeditab CR, Procardia), amlodipine (Norvasc) and felodipine (Plendil) that helps heal skin ulcer and can decrease the severity and frequency of attacks;
Such as prazosin (Minipress) and doxazosin (Cardura) that counteract the actions of a hormone that constricts blood vessels;
Such as nitroglycerin by applying it to the base of your fingers, and this can help the blood vessels to relax and to heal skin ulcers.
The commonly vasodilators that treat other conditions are:
nadolol and propranolol that used to treat heart disease and high blood pressure.
For surgeries and medical procedures:
nerve surgery – this procedure is called sympathectomy and the nerves in your hands are called sympathetic nerves that control the opening and narrowing of blood vessels will be cut to interrupt their exaggerated response. It may also reduce the duration and frequency of attacks;
chemical injection – such as onabotulinumtoxin type A will be injected to block the sympathetic nerves in your affected feet or hands.
To prevent Raynaud’s disease:
warm your car by running the heater for a few minutes before driving in cold weather;
bundle up outdoors by using scarf, socks, boots or hat when it is cold, you can also wear gloves or mittens to prevent cold from reaching your hands; consider relocating by moving to a warmer climate;
take precautions indoors by wearing mittens of gloves or socks especially in winter time, you can also use drinking glasses and set your temperature to warm.
7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies
There are few alternative remedies and lifestyle changes that may help in managing Raynaud’s disease such as:
ginkgo to decrease the attacks;
fish oil to improve your tolerance in cold;
biofeedback to decrease the frequency and severity of attacks;
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