Raynaud disease; Primary Raynaud; Secondary Raynaud
Raynaud phenomenon is a condition in which cold temperatures or strong emotions cause blood vessel spasms. This blocks blood flow to the affected regions and causes discoloration
When Raynaud phenomenon is a primary condition, meaning it occurs by itself and not in association with other diseases, it is referred to as Raynaud disease. It most often begins in women younger than age 30. Secondary Raynaud phenomenon is when the condition is linked to other conditions and can occur at any age.
Common causes of secondary Raynaud phenomenon are:
Exposure to the cold or strong emotions bring on the changes.
People with Raynaud disease have problems in the same fingers on both sides. Most people do not have much pain. The skin of the arms or legs may develop bluish blotches which goes away when the skin is warmed up.
People with secondary Raynaud phenomenon are more likely to have pain or tingling in the fingers. Painful ulcers may form on the affected fingers if the attacks are severe.
Your health care provider can often discover the condition causing Raynaud phenomenon by asking you questions and doing a physical exam.
Tests that may be done to confirm the diagnosis include:
Taking these steps may help control Raynaud phenomenon:
Your provider may prescribe medicines to dilate the walls of the blood vessels. These include topical nitroglycerin cream that you rub on your skin, calcium channel blockers, sildenafil (Revatio), and tadalafil (Adcirca).
Low dose aspirin is often used to prevent blood clots.
For severe disease (such as when gangrene begins in fingers or toes), intravenous medicines may be used. Surgery may also be done to cut nerves that cause spasm in the blood vessels. People are most often hospitalized when the condition is this serious.
It is vital to treat the condition causing Raynaud phenomenon.
The outcome varies. It depends on the cause of the problem and how bad it is.
Complications may include:
Contact your provider if:
Cameron J. Vascular surgery. In: Cameron J, ed. Current Surgical Therapy. 14th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 16.
Landry GJ, Repella TL. Raynaud phenomenon. In: Sidawy AN, Perler BA, eds. Rutherford's Vascular Surgery and Endovascular Therapy. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 142.
Roustit M, Giai J, Gaget O, et al. On-demand Sildenafil as a treatment for Raynaud phenomenon: a series of n-of-1 trials. Ann Intern Med. 2018;169(10):694-703. PMID: 30383134 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30383134/.
Stringer T, Femia AN. Raynaud's phenomenon: current concepts. Clin Dermatol. 2018;36(4):498-507. PMID: 30047433 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30047433/.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 4/30/2023
Reviewed By: Neil J. Gonter, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Columbia University, New York, NY, and private practice specializing in Rheumatology at Rheumatology Associates of North Jersey, Teaneck, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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