Raynaud’s Disease – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Methods

Raynaud’s disease is a condition that affects the blood supply to the fingers, toes and occasionally the ears and nose. Raynaud’s disease can be classified as one of two types: primary (or idiopathic) and secondary (also called Raynaud’s phenomenon). Primary Raynaud’s disease has no predisposing factor, is more mild, and causes fewer complications. About half of all cases of Raynaud’s disease are of this type. It can occur without any other associated symptoms or disease. The fingers are the most commonly affected area, but the toes also are affected in 40 percent of people with Raynaud’s. In severe cases, tissue damage leads to gangrene and the ends of the affected digits die and become black, requiring amputation. Fortunately this is a rare complication. Women are more likely than men are to have the disorder. It’s more common in people who live in colder climates. Use of such drugs, which constrict blood vessels, can also make Raynaud’s phenomenon worse. Some people with Raynaud’s phenomenon also have other disorders that occur when arteries are prone to constrict.

People who operate vibrating machinery may also experience this problem. If the condition progresses, blood flow to the area could become permanently decreased causing the fingers to become thin and tapered, with smooth, shiny skin and slow growing nails. People can control mild Raynaud’s disease by protecting their head, trunk, arms, and legs from cold. Secondary Raynaud’s disease is common among individuals systemic lupus erythematosus in tropical countries. Secondary Raynaud’s disease is the same as primary Raynaud’s disease, but occurs in individuals with a predisposing factor, usually a form of collagen vascular disease. Raynaud’s disease is diagnosed if the symptoms occur only by itself and is not accompanied by other diseases. When you have primary or secondary Raynaud’s, cold temperatures or stressful emotions can trigger attacks. During these attacks, there is a brief lack of blood flow to the affected body part(s), and the skin can temporarily become white then bluish. When Raynaud’s is severe (which is uncommon), exposure to cold for as little as 20 minutes can cause major tissue damage.

Causes of Raynaud’s disease

The common causes and risk factor’s of Raynaud’s disease include the following:

The exact cause of Raynaud’s is unknown.


Contact with the cold.

Alcohol use (in women).

Chemical exposure.

Diseases of the arteries.

Associated diseases.

Repetitive trauma.

Emotions such as stress and anxiety.

It appears to be more common in people who live in colder climates.

Symptoms of Raynaud’s disease

Some sign and symptoms related to Raynaud’s disease are as follows:

A tingling feeling or pain in the fingers or toes when they warm up.

Tingling or pain on warming.

Bluish skin.

Sequence of color changes in your skin in response to cold or stress.

Slight swelling.


Skin redness or inflammation.

Pain in the fingers or toes when they are cold.

Treatment of Raynaud’s disease

Here is list of the methods for treating Raynaud’s disease:

Self-care and preventive treatment usually are effective in alleviating mild symptoms of Raynaud’s.

Calcium channel blockers: These drugs relax and open up small blood vessels in your hands and feet.

Biofeedback can also help to decrease the severity and frequency of RP in some patients.

Doctors may use a surgical procedure called a digital sympathectomy with adventitial stripping (which involves removing the tissue and nerves around the blood vessels supplying the affected digits).

Patients with persistent or bothersome symptoms may be helped by taking oral medications that open (dilate) blood vessels. These include calcium antagonists, such as diltiazem, nicardipine (Cardene), nifedipine (Procardia).

Medications to relax the walls of the blood vessels may be prescribed.