What is Raynaud’s Disease?


Raynaud’s disease is a condition in which the small blood vessels that carry blood to different areas of the body become constricted. The symptoms of the disease may vary depending on the severity of the constriction, the area that is affected, and the frequency of the spasms. The disease often causes certain areas of the body to feel cold or numb in response to cold temperatures or other stresses. Since the disease affects blood circulation, it can cause other issues to develop.

Symptoms of Raynaud’s Disease

When the spasms associated with Raynaud’s begin, the fingertips, toes, or other areas that are being affected usually turn white, and then turn blue if the stress is not removed or resolved. As the circulation is restored, the body area may tingle or burn and turn red. It may take up to 15 minutes for the feeling to return to the area and the symptoms to go away after stresses have been removed. While the fingers and toes are the most commonly affected areas, the nipples, nose, lips, and ears may also be affected.

Diagnosing Raynauld’s Disease

Doctors are unsure of what causes Raynaud’s disease, so symptoms are usually the first indication that the disease is present. A nail fold capillaroscopy is usually used to diagnose the disease. In this test, doctors examine the nail base under a microscope, looking for deformities or enlarged blood vessels that may indicate Raynaud’s disease. If the disease is present, blood tests may be used to determine whether there are other autoimmune disorders causing Raynaud’s disease.

Treating Raynaud’s Disease

Preventing tissue damage and reducing the number of spasms are the goals in treatment of Raynaud’s disease. Wearing thick socks and protective layers when the weather is cold can help to reduce attacks and protect the body from complications. Certain medications can help to thin the blood or dilate blood vessels so that circulation is not affected. If these treatment methods do not work, it may be necessary to get nerve surgery or a chemical injection to prevent attacks and preserve tissue.

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