Raynaud’s Phenomenon

Raynaud’s Phenomenon Explained

When circulation is cut off to a limb or extremity discoloration can often occur through a reddening or paling effect to the skin.  It is a vascular disease that often occurs in conjunction with arthritis, although it can occur by itself (in this case it is referred to as Raynaud’s disease).  Cases of Raynaud’s disease are far less common than secondary Raynaud’s syndrome.  In some cases extreme discoloration can actually be a sign of gangrene or the formation of necrotic tissue.  If you notice any severe skin discoloration localized in your extremities you need to contact a physician immediately.

The discoloration caused by Raynaud’s disease can be accompanied by numbness due to an adverse effect on the blood supply to that area of the body.  Much like arthritis those with Raynaud’s syndrome should avoid cold climates, although in the case of Raynaud’s there is more at stake than additional discomfort.  With Raynaud’s disease there is a good chance of limb loss if you are in a cold climate in which your condition can be aggravated.  The skin can turn white, red and even blue when a case of Raynaud’s is untreated or severe.  In cold climates one’s skin tends to turn white, a depletion of oxygen is marked by a blue color and immediately after either condition is corrected the skin will turn a bright red temporarily after circulation is restored.

In many cases more often than not women are diagnosed with Raynaud’s than men (regardless of the presence of arthritis) and has been known to occur with some regularity for breastfeeding mothers.  In addition to the fingers and toes being effected by Raynaud’s the nose and earlobes can also be susceptible.  Raynaud’s can often be an initial presenting symptom for rheumatoid arthritis up to 20 years before the disease manifests.  If you have symptoms of Raynaud’s be sure to get checked out for possible problems with arthritis later on.

Living in a warm climate if you have Raynaud’s is a very, very good idea because cold weather could aggravate or even worsen your condition.  If you do happen to experience cold weather or cold conditions and your disease is aggravated there are emergency measures that can be taken to safeguard your health.  If your skin turns white you should run warm water over the affected area and slowly increase the heat until your skin color returns to normal.  If no warm water is available put the discolored area into a warm part of your body such as your mouth or inner thigh (if possible).

In some extreme cases surgery may be necessary to correct for complications caused by Raynaud’s.  Surgery for the treatment of Raynaud’s involves either amputation or the injection of affected tissue with prostacyclin.  In many cases these injections greatly reduced and almost eliminated the pain caused by Raynaud’s.  In some isolated cases however amputation of the affected area is the best course of action for eliminating pain and greatly aid avoiding possible gangrene breakouts later on.