Monday, February 4, 2013

February is Raynaud’s Syndrome Awareness Month: What does this mean to you?

“When [Raynaud’s] occurs by itself, it is called Raynaud’s disease, or primary Raynaud’s phenomenon. When it occurs along with other diseases, such as scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, polymyositis, dermatomyositis, Sjogren’s syndrome, or mixed connective tissue disease, it is called secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon.”
Cooper and Miller, 2010, pg. 106-107

The symptoms of Raynaud’s are common in fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue immunodysfunction, and may be present if you have thoracic outlet syndrome.  The symptoms should not be confused with feeling cold, which is often associated with FM and CFID (ME/CFS).  These symptoms could be due to an upset in neuro-endocrine system, and can be attributed to autonomic effects or hypothyroidism. 

The defining characteristic of Raynaud's is that it generally affects only the fingers, toes, and  sometimes nose, and most commonly occurs when exposed to cold. Changes in skin color occur from pale to blue, and turn red during re-warming.  Also associated is extreme numbness during the acute phase. Though the cause is unknown, it is suspected that the nerves to the blood vessels cause them to spasm depriving the skin of blood and oxygen.  When the arteries relax during re-warming, blood flow returns causing the redness, which is frequently associated with pain, stinging or a burning sensation.

Your doctor may order a cold stimulation test to confirm diagnosis or do a nail fold capillaroscopy  or vascular ultrasound if secondary Raynaud’s is suspected.

Myofascial trigger point (MTrP) nerve entrapment can worsen symptoms of Raynaud’s so check MTrPs associated with the referral patterns to the affected area. (Cooper and Miller, 2010).

Treatment goals:

  • Re-warm slowly.
  • Protect fingers, toes and nose from cold exposure to prevent frostbite and skin ulcers.
  • Avoid emotional stress.
  • Avoid alcohol, particularly when you know you will be exposed to cold.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Avoid use of tools that vibrate the hands.
  • Vasodilator type medications may be indicated in severe cases.
  • There are certain medications to avoid if you have Raynaud’s, so be sure to consult with your physician or pharmacist.

Report any unusual symptoms or skin breakdown to your physician immediately.

All blogs, posts and answers are not meant to replace medical advice.

1 comment:

elana r. snyder said...

Yes, i am self diagnosed. have had it for years, but i can't find any medical care in my small rural town. ;(

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