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Definition Return to top
Raynaud’s phenomenon is a condition in which cold temperatures or strong emotions cause blood vessel spasms that block blood flow to the fingers, toes, ears, and nose.
Causes Return to top
Raynaud's phenomenon can be associated with other conditions. This is called secondary Reynaud's phenomenon. Most people with the condition are over age 30.
Common causes are:
Raynaud's phenomenon also occurs without another disease, medication, or cause. This is called primary Raynaud's phenomenon. It is most often seen in people younger than age 30.
Symptoms Return to top
Strong emotions or exposure to the cold causes the fingers, toes, ears, or nose to become white, then turn blue. When blood flow returns, the area becomes red and then later returns to normal color. The attacks may last from minutes to hours.
People with primary Raynaud's phenomenon (no other cause or condition) have problems in the same fingers on both sides, but they do not have very much pain.
People with secondary Raynaud's phenomenon (associated with other medical conditions) are more likely to have pain in different fingers. They often have pain and tingling.
Exams and Tests Return to top
The doctor will perform a physical exam. Vascular ultrasound and a cold stimulation test for Raynaud's phenomenon may be done.
Different blood tests may be done to diagnose arthritic and autoimmune conditions that may cause Raynaud's phenomenon.
Treatment Return to top
The following lifestyle changes may help people with Raynaud's phenomenon:
Your health care provider may prescribe medications to relax the walls of the blood vessels. These include topical nitroglycerin, calcium channel blockers, sildenafil (Viagra), and ace inhibitors.
It is important to treat the condition causing Raynaud's phenomenon.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
The outcome varies depending on the cause and the severity of the condition.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if:
Prevention Return to top
Avoid exposure to the cold. Dress warmly when you cannot avoid cold. If you smoke, stop smoking, as it further constricts the blood vessels.
References Return to top
Bakst R, Merola JF, Franks AG Jr., Sanchez M, Perelman RO. Raynaud's phenomenon: pathogenesis and management. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2008;59:633-653.
Olin JW. Other peripheral arterial diseases. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 80.Update Date: 5/31/2009 Updated by: Mark James Borigini, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.