Raynauds Phenomenon

In people with Raynaud’s Phenomenon fingers or toes become temporarily blue and white after exposure to cold or after emotional stress. This is a frequent and independant occurrence, but Raynauds Phenomenon may occur in conjunction with a connective tissue disease.

This disease occurs in about 5% of Americans and is more likely to occur in women, than in men. The major common connective tissue problems associated with Raynaud’s Phenomenon are scleroderma and related disorders. People with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, dermatomyositis, and polymyositis are more likely to have this disease.

Such drugs like beta blockers, belomyein, vincristine cisplastin and others can trigger this disorder. Birth control medications may sometimes decrease circulation and promote attacks. Raynaud’s Phenomenon usually occurs in 3 phases. First phase is when the ends of the toes or fingers become pale or white. During the second phase, they become bluish; during the third phase circulation is restored and they become red before returning to their normal color.

Frequently the color changes are associated with pain or numbness. In some cases in people with Raynaud’s Phenomenon the nose, carlobes or tongue may also be affected. Attacks may last from minutes to hours. The doctor determines this disease through a physical examination and the individual’s medical history. To prevent Raynauds Phenomenon people should avoid exposure to cold and should wear gloves and mittens, and a vest in cool or cold weather. During an attack, waving the affected leg or arm may be helpful. In worst cases, such medications as Nifedipine (calcium-channel blockers) are usually used to treat chest pain from coronary disease and hypertension.

Many doctors advise people with Raynaud’s to avoid cold temperatures, cigarette smoke, beta blockers and other drugs which may lead to this disease. A technique like Biofeedback in which patients learn how to regulate ordinarily involuntary body functions is also beneficial to prevent a future attacks.

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