June 20, 2015

Raynaud’s Phenomenon

Facts: Raynaud’s phenomenon occurs when the blood vessels that feed fingers and toes constrict in reaction to cold, such as when holding a glass of ice water or being in an air-conditioned room, emotional stress or excitement. Fingers turn white in the cold weather or freezer and they feel cold, numb and painful. The fingers then turn blue. After 10 minutes or so they turn red (following the colors of the American flag), tingle, throb and re-warm. Secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon is associated with connective tissue diseases, such as Lupus, Scleroderma, Sjögren’s Syndrome, mixed connective tissue disease, medications, thyroid disease and cancer. Attacks can be controlled and oftentimes be avoided with medication and local warming. If Raynaud’s phenomenon is severe and attacks tend to last a long time, slow-healing sores may form on finger tips. In rare cases gangrene may develop.

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