This blog is written by our clinicians and aims to keep patients informed with up to date information on medical conditions.
Raynaud’s phenomenon is a common condition thought to affect up to ten million people in the UK.
In Raynaud’s – the small blood vessels in your extremities (such as hands and feet, fingers or toes) are over-sensitive to even the slightest changes in temperature, the cold and stress.
This causes a Raynaud’s attack where the fingers or toes sometimes change colour from white, to blue, to red and the affected body part becomes incredibly painful.
Typical Raynaud’s symptoms
Raynaud’s symptoms include:
- a colour change in the extremities such as hands or feet
- cold extremities and numbness
- tingling or pain
Interestingly the condition isn’t localised only to hands and feet, but also ears, nose lips and nipples too.
Who gets Raynaud’s
It more commonly begins between the ages of 20 and 40. That said, children and older adults can also suffer with it.
The two types of Raynaud’s
There are two types of Raynaud’s – Primary and Secondary.
- Primary is the most common type, develops by itself and is usually mild and manageable.
- Secondary is caused by another condition
The exact cause of secondary Raynaud’s is often unknown. Sometimes it is due to an autoimmune disease (such as Scleroderma) that requires further investigation, monitoring and treatment. Other times it is due to the blood vessels in the fingers being narrowed, carpal tunnel disease, repetitive action or vibration, smoking, injuries and even some drugs (such as beta blockers).
1 in 10 people with Primary Raynaud’s will go on to develop an autoimmune condition, so if you have the symptoms of Raynaud’s it is worth booking an appointment with one of our GPs to see if there is more to your cold hands and feet than the chilly weather.
Investigations to diagnose Raynaud’s
Raynaud’s is usually diagnosed clinically, from a history of painful cold extremities and colour changes to the skin.
To rule out autoimmune disease, we also take a simple blood test to check:
- Your full blood count
- ANA (an autoimmune test)
- ESR (a test for inflammation)
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Raynaud’s, however attacks can be prevented through the following things:
- Avoid cold environments/touching cold things
- Wear lots of thin layers to keep warm
- Use hand warmers, gloves and thick socks
- There is a drug (Nifedipine) licenced for the treatment of Raynaud’s. Book an appointment with one of our doctors if you would like to discuss this further.
Take the online test and see if you might have Raynaud’s!
If you have any questions about the this post or would like to discuss Raynaud’s further, call or e-mail us.