QUESTION: A 25-year-old woman goes on holidays to the snow and notices her fingers go numb and change colour. What is this? What should she do?
What Is It?
Raynaud’s Disease: Pronounced ‘ray-nose’
A condition caused by the sympathetic nervous system which causes narrowing of arteries in the extremities (e.g. fingers, toes), resulting in reduced blood flow to these areas.
What Causes Raynaud’s Disease?
Cold weather, stress and anxiety, vibratory tools, medical conditions resulting in reduced blood flow.
Symptoms include feeling cold, numbness, and occasionally pain. Typically involves colour changes in affected area – turn black or white, then blue or purple, then red. This cascade of colour changes is known as Raynaud’s Phenomenon.
Raynaud’s is more common in females, between the ages of 20-40, in colder climates. It is commonly associated with autoimmune conditions such as scleroderma. Some medications can predispose people to Raynaud’s Disease, such as migraine medications. Smoking is also a risk factor.
What Can We Do?
• Unfortunately, there is poor evidence for medications being effective (such as calcium channel blockers and vasodilators)
• Activity modification – avoid smoking and certain medications.
• Stress management and overall well-being
• Take precautions i.e. pack warm clothes, warm hands prior to leaving house
• There is some evidence for thermal biofeedback training, where you can mentally increase your body temperature
If you think you may suffer from Raynaud’s disease, and would like more information on how to manage it, please feel free to book an appointment with one of our experienced therapists!