Raynaud’s Disease is a condition wherein the passage of blood to the body extremities such as the fingers and toes becomes obstructed, resulting in a numb sensation and a shaky feeling. Also known as Raynaud’s Phenomenon and Raynaud’s Syndrome, this occurs due to the tiny arteries constricting under very cold or high-pressure conditions, which is medically referred to as vasospasm. Besides the noticeable insensitivity at the farther appendages in the body, Raynaud’s disease is characterised by a prominent change in skin colour in the fingers, toes, to white and eventually blue, such as in peripheral cyanosis. This discolouration is sometimes seen in the lips, nipples, nose and ears as well. This disorder is named after the eminent French physician Auguste Gabriel Maurice Raynaud, who first described the signs and symptoms, in the year 1962.
Generally witnessed in people staying in extremely cold locations, Raynaud’s disease tends to be more common in women than in men. Although Raynaud’s syndrome does not usually present any severe consequences or incapacitating situations in most people, yet, in certain cases, it can hamper productivity and quality of life. It is hence essential to understand the causes, symptoms of Raynaud’s disease, to diagnose it promptly, provide pertinent medical treatment and ensure the full recovery of the affected individual.
Types Of Raynaud’s Disorder:
There exist two fundamental types of Raynaud’s, called Primary Raynaud’s and Secondary Raynaud’s.
This kind is also known as Raynaud’s Disease. It occurs very rampantly in people and arises independently, not being triggered by any pre-existing illness. It is usually very mild, with only subtle symptoms that don’t require intense treatment and mends by itself in some time.
This category is otherwise referred to as Raynaud’s Syndrome or Raynaud’s Phenomenon. It is rare, being instigated by an underlying ailment, like scleroderma – an autoimmune malady that involves thickening of the skin, smoking often, hand injuries like wrist fractures, all of which tighten the blood vessels. This condition presents in grave forms and thus needs proper medical care.
The exact reason behind Raynaud’s has not yet been determined by researchers and doctors. It is considered to result from constriction of blood vessels chiefly in the hands and feet, owing to either cold weather or massive internal/external stress on tissues.
Generally, when encountering chilly climates or high force, the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the fingers and toes become rather narrow, hindering smooth circulation to the extremities. Common situations, like taking out food from the freezer or showering in cold water, predominantly prompt Raynaud’s in people. At times, however, suffering from emotional trauma or distress also induces Raynaud’s.
Additionally, specific attributes predispose an individual to contract Raynaud’s disease. Besides affecting primarily women more than men, between the ages of 15 to 30, a family history of the disease also increases the risk of the child contracting Raynaud’s disease. Autoimmune conditions like lupus, taking prescription medicines for other ailments and coming in direct contact with harsh chemicals like vinyl chloride also trigger Raynaud’s in people.
The distinguishing signs of Raynaud’s disorder consist of:
- Chilly sensation in the toes and fingers
- Change in skin colour in fingers, toes from the original shade to white, then blue due to lack of circulation, oxygen supply, eventually turning a natural red again after blood flow resumes via the arteries
- Biting pain in the extremities with swelling and a prickly feeling
The physician conducts a thorough physical exam, enquires about the patient’s medical history and observes all the noticeable indications of Raynaud’s, like discolouration in the hands and feet, distensions in the skin and tingling sensations.
Then to identify the type of Raynaud’s, as primary or secondary, the healthcare professional performs and analysis called nailfold capillaroscopy. This involves examining the skin under the fingernails in a microscope, to identify if there are any abnormalities or inflammation in the very minute blood vessels in that region.
In case an autoimmune condition is thought to be the cause of Raynaud’s, then the doctor conducts detailed blood tests from the patient’s sample, to confirm the same.
In minor instances of Raynaud’s, the doctor recommends the patient to wear thick layers of clothing, like gloves, socks, sweaters, to protect the extremities and other body parts from being exposed to the outside cold environs.If the symptoms of Raynaud’s are persistent and severe, then the healthcare provider prescribes medications, to lower the occurrence of Raynaud’s and preserve interior tissues from damage. In very serious cases, the doctor may perform a nerve surgery or administer chemical injections, to broaden the narrow blood vessels, treat the discomforting symptoms of Raynaud’s and restore optimal blood flow to the extremities in the patient.