What Is Raynaud's Phenomenon?

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By amanda
Article Sources Article Sources
  • 1. Hughes, M and Herrick, A.L. Raynaud's phenomenon, Best Practice & Research Clinical Rheumatology, Vol 30, 1 (2016): 112-132. Doi: 10.1016/j.berh.2016.04.001.
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Raynaud’s, sometimes referred to as Raynaud’s disease, syndrome or phenomenon, is a condition that causes a disruption in circulation to the hands. It is a relatively rare condition that affects the arteries that deliver blood throughout the body.

While you may be actively anticipating the cooler weather’s arrival, for some people, that cold weather leads to pain and circulatory distress. The body reacts to cold weather by adjusting blood flow. In some cases, that process malfunctions, and blood vessels constrict so much that they begin to spasm. This is known as vasospasm. When vasospasm occurs in the hands and feet due to exposure to cold, it is often due to a condition known as Raynaud’s disease.

1. What Causes Raynaud’s Disease?

There are two main types of Raynaud’s. When the condition is diagnosed on its own and is unrelated to other medical concerns, it is called primary Raynaud’s or Raynaud’s disease. This is the most common form of the disorder and, although the cause is known, it tends to be less severe than the secondary type. Secondary Reynaud’s, or Raynaud’s phenomenon, is brought on by another medical condition.

Symptoms of Raynaud’s are not always present but rather occur as attacks or flares. These are caused by exposure to cold or stress. Even a mild change in temperature over a short period can lead to an attack. For example, taking food or ice from the freezer can cause fingers to turn blue until they are warmed.

Raynaud's Phenomenon

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