Raynaud’s syndrome and Raynaud’s disease affects many people. In the winter, cold weather or emotional stress can cause the blood vessels in the hands – and possibly the feet – to constrict and the toes, fingers (or just one or two) to turn white, blue and then flush. The flushing causes tingling and throbbing of the fingers. In severe cases, inadequate blood flow can cause ulcers and tissue necrosis.
Raynaud’s disease and Raynaud’s syndrome are distinguished. The former is not caused by any serious disease, but usually by a disturbance of the hormones or the autonomic nervous system. Raynaud’s syndrome is often caused by other autoimmune diseases such as lupus, Sjögren’s syndrome, scleroderma or rheumatoid arthritis.
What else can trigger this disease? For example, blood pressure problems, migraines, cancer drugs, contraceptive drugs. The culprit could also be carpal tunnel syndrome, which is caused by some kind of monotonous movement, such as working at a computer.
There is no cure for Raynaud’s disease, but there are a number of treatments that can reduce the number and frequency of episodes. In winter, protect your hands and feet from the cold. Wear warm woollen socks and gloves. Avoid triggers, such as medicines and stress, which is one of the main causes of the disease.
If you feel your hands are about to turn white again, just soak them in warm water. Limit repetitive hand movements. Increase physical activity as this is very good for increasing circulation.
Cigarette smoke causes blood vessels to constrict, so it is worth quitting smoking. Reducing stress is also very important, as it can help to avoid the unpleasant episodes that are typical of the disease. Avoid temperature differences.
There are supplements that can also help if you suffer from this disease. Fish oil has a good effect on the vascular system, and ginkgo supplements can help prevent the unpleasant whitening of the fingers that comes with blood vessel constriction. Acupuncture improves blood flow, and biofeedback can help us regulate body temperature with our mind. This can reduce the number and severity of attacks.