Raynaud Phenomenon

by Sam Malone


Raynaud Phenomenon or RP is a condition characterized by discoloration of body parts, namely, the fingers and toes, when they are exposed to emotional events or alterations in temperature. Skin discoloration happens due to abnormal spasms in the blood vessels, depleting supply of blood in local tissues. Raynaud Phenomenon usually affects women who are in their 20s until 40s. It can also be associated with other rheumatic illnesses. At the onset of the illness the digit affected can turn white because of blood supply shortage. It then turns to blue if there’s continuous lack of oxygen. Reopening of the blood vessels create a flushing phenomenon, which makes the digit red.

There are really no known causes for RP, yet the sensitivity of nerves to cold and abnormalities of nerve control to blood vessel diameter are considered to be contributing factors. Raynaud’s Phenomenon also happens if you have rheumatoid arthritis, hormone imbalance, scleroderma, lupus, nicotine, and some medications. RP symptoms vary, depending on the frequency, duration, and severity of the spasms in the blood vessels. Some patients may experience the disease mildly during cold temperature. Other signs include numbness and mild tingling. Sometimes too much lack of oxygen supply can cause ulcers in the digits, which makes you prone to infection.

Preventing the development of Raynaud’s Phenomenon include protecting your toes and fingers from trauma, infection, and cold. Patients should also avoid medications that can worsen blood vessel spasm. Persistent symptoms can be treated by taking medications that can cause blood vessel dilation. Those who don’t have other symptoms aside from discoloration may only have to prevent further complications. This means you have to constantly keep your body warm by wearing thick clothing during colder times. You may also wear a pair of cotton gloves while you search something in the freezer. Adjust room temperature to avoid too much cold in your surroundings. Protect your hands with rubber gloves if you’re dish washing. Reduce barefoot waking. Don’t also wear rings, bands, or any object that can compress your blood vessels.

The patient should at all times protect his feet and hands from wounds and trauma, which can lead to more serious infection. You can also reduce the frequency of the attacks by avoiding tools that emotional stresses that can cause hand vibration. Chemicals present in tobacco such as nicotine can constrict your blood vessels and harden the arteries, impairing the supply of oxygen. A patient therefore should avoid both direct and second-hand smoking.

Toes and fingertips should be free of any injury by properly caring your nails. If ulcers start to develop at the tips of your digits, you must seek medical help so the physician can monitor your condition. You can also apply finger splits to cover ulcerated portions. Severe cases of Raynaud’s Phenomenon can lead to digit loss and gangrene. A nerve surgery known as sympathectomy is performed. It means surgically interrupting the nerve that stimulates blood vessel constriction that results to spasms of blood vessels. Digital sympathectomy refers to stripping of tiny never surrounding the blood vessels through small incisions.


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