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Raynaud's syndrome

What is it?

Raynaud's (ra-nods) syndrome (sin-drom) is a problem with the way arteries carry blood to your fingers or toes. These arteries spasm (tighten), often because of cold weather. This problem is more common in women than men. It happens more often as we get older.

Causes:

You may have an immune (ih-mewn) system that does not work well. The immune system is how your body fights infection. Diseases, such as lupus and some kinds of arthritis (arth-ri-tis) may cause Raynaud's syndrome. Smoking, some medicines, or chemicals you come in contact with may make you more likely to have Raynaud's syndrome. Sometimes it is not known what causes Raynaud's syndrome.

Signs and Symptoms:

With cold or stress, your fingers or toes may be pale and then turn blue or red. Other signs may be pain, numbness, or tingling. You may have long-term infections around your fingernails or toenails. Symptoms begin slowly over many years.

Wellness Recommendations:

To keep from having a Raynaud's syndrome attack, stop smoking and stay away from cigarette smoke. Wear gloves. Keep your entire body warm. Dress warm if you are outside in cold weather. Face the sun as much as possible but always wear a sunscreen to protect your skin. Learn ways to control stress. Follow your caregiver's advice if you have another disease, such as lupus or arthritis.

Medical Care:

Blood tests and x-rays of your hands and feet may be done. You may also have a cold challenge test done on your hands. Medicine may be needed to help open your blood vessels to get blood to your fingers and toes. You may also be given pain medicine. Sometimes surgery is needed to treat Raynaud's syndrome.

Dietary Measures:

  • Avoid caffeine since caffeine can trigger spasm in the blood vessels.

Herbs and Supplements:

Before taking any herbs or supplements, ask your caregiver if it is OK. Talk to your caregiver about how much you should take. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to. The herbs and supplements listed may or may not help treat your condition.

Herbs:

    Supplements:

      Complementary Therapies:

      • Acupuncture may help Raynaud's syndrome.
      • Biofeedback may help Raynaud's syndrome.
      • Hypnosis may help Raynaud's syndrome.

      Other ways of treating your symptoms : Other ways to treat your symptoms are available to you.

      Talk to your caregiver if:

      • You would like medicine to treat Raynaud's syndrome.
      • The pain in your fingers does not go away or gets worse.
      • You get sores on your fingers and toes that do not heal.
      • Your symptoms have not gone away or improved by these self-help measures.
      • You have questions about what you have read in this document.

      Care agreement: You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

      References:

      1. Appiah R, Hiller S, Caspary L et al: Treatment of primary Raynaud's syndrome with traditional Chinese acupuncture. J Intern Med 1997; 241(2):119-124.

      2. Belch JJF, Shaw B, O'Dowd A et al: Evening primrose oil (Efamol) in the treatment of Raynaud's phenomenon: a double blind study. Thromb Haemost 1985; 54(2):490-494.

      3. Muir A, Robb R, McLaren M et al: The use of Ginkgo biloba in Raynaud's disease: a double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Vasc Med 2002; 7(4):265-267.

      4. Seikowski K, Weber B & Haustein UF: Effect of hypnosis and autogenic training on acral circulation and coping with the illness in patients with progressive scleroderma. Hautarzt 1995; 46(2):94-101.

      5. Sunderland GT, Belch JJ, Sturrock RD et al: A double blind randomised placebo controlled trial of hexopal in primary Raynaud's disease. Clin Rheumatol 1988; 7(1):46-49.

      6. Whitaker L & Kelleher A: Raynaud's syndrome: diagnosis and treatment. J Vasc Nurs 1994; 12(1):10-13.

      7. Yocum DE, Hodes R, Sundstrom WR et al: Use of biofeedback training in treatment of Raynaud's disease and phenomenon. J Rheumatol 1985; 12(1):90-93.


      Last Updated: 11/4/2014

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