Raynaud’s Syndrome



Raynaud’s syndrome is a condition that affects nearly 5-10% of Americans that live in cold climates. Women are affected more frequently than men. Raynaud’s syndrome likely results from hyperactivity of our sympathetic nervous system that when triggered results in vasospasm of small blood vessels in our extremities, hands, and feet. Although exposure to cold temperature is the most common trigger for vasospasm, a few other conditions such as stress, smoking, excessive alcohol intake, and connective tissue disease can also trigger blood vessel spasm. The vasospasm presents with fingertips and toes turning white due to lack of blood flow which also results in numbness and tingling and sometimes pain. Once the hands and feet warm up, patients experience red flushing in the affected area and sometimes swelling.

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Signs & Symptoms:

  • Cold fingers or toes.
  • Color changes in your skin in response to cold or stress.
  • Numb, prickly feeling or stinging pain upon warming or stress relief.

Management Options:

Managing Raynaud’s syndrome includes keeping body and extremity temperature warm. Patients are encouraged to wear warm gloves and socks. In patients that experience breakthrough pain and discomfort, particularly in the winter months, doctors often prescribe Alpha-1 blockers and other vasodilators to prevent vasospasm.