Site Map

Raynaud phenomenon

Raynaud's phenomenon; Raynaud's disease

Raynaud phenomenon is a condition in which cold temperatures or strong emotions cause blood vessel spasms. This blocks blood flow to the fingers, toes, ears, and nose.

Images

Raynaud's phenomenon
Systemic lupus erythematosus
Circulatory system

I Would Like to Learn About:

Causes

Raynaud phenomenon is called "primary" when it is not linked to another disorder. It most often begins in women younger than age 30. Secondary Raynaud phenomenon is linked to other conditions and usually occurs in people who are over age 30.

Common causes of secondary Raynaud phenomenon are:

Symptoms

Exposure to the cold or strong emotions bring on the changes.

People with primary Raynaud phenomenon have problems in the same fingers on both sides. Most people do not have much pain. The skin of the arms or legs develops bluish blotches. This goes away when the skin is warmed up.

People with secondary Raynaud phenomenon are more likely to have pain or tingling in the fingers. Painful ulcers may form on the affected fingers if the attacks are very bad.

Exams and Tests

Your health care provider can often discover the condition causing Raynaud phenomenon by asking you questions and doing a physical exam.

Tests that may be done to confirm the diagnosis include:

Treatment

Taking these steps may help control Raynaud phenomenon:

Your provider may prescribe medicines to dilate the walls of the blood vessels. These include topical nitroglycerin cream that you rub on your skin, calcium channel blockers, sildenafil (Viagra), and ACE inhibitors.

Low dose aspirin is often used to prevent blood clots.

For severe disease (such as when gangrene begins in fingers or toes), intravenous medicines may be used. Surgery may also be done to cut nerves that cause spasm in the blood vessels. People are most often hospitalized when the condition is this serious.

It is vital to treat the condition causing Raynaud phenomenon.

Outlook (Prognosis)

The outcome varies. It depends on the cause of the problem and how bad it is.

Possible Complications

Complications may include:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if:

Related Information

Thromboangiitis obliterans
Atherosclerosis
Rheumatoid arthritis
Scleroderma
Systemic lupus erythematosus
Numbness and tingling
Swelling

References

Giglia JS. Raynaud's phenomenon. In: Cameron JL, Cameron AM, eds. Current Surgical Therapy. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:1047-1052.

Landry GJ. Raynaud phenomenon. In: Sidawy AN, Perler BA, eds. Rutherford's Vascular Surgery and Endovascular Therapy. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 141.

Roustit M, Giai J, Gaget O, et al. On-demand Sildenafil as a treatment for Raynaud Phenomenon: a series of n-of-1 trials. Ann Intern Med. 2018;169(10):694-703. PMID: 30383134 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30383134.

Stringer T, Femia AN. Raynaud's phenomenon: current concepts. Clin Dermatol. 2018;36(4):498-507. PMID: 30047433 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30047433.

BACK TO TOP

Review Date: 4/8/2019  

Reviewed By: Gordon A. Starkebaum, MD, MACR, ABIM Board Certified in Rheumatology, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

ADAM Quality Logo

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, for Health Content Provider (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2021 A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.