Raynaud’s phenomenon – what to look out for! Early signs and symptoms of Raynaud’s phenomenon.

Raynaud’s phenomenon
Raynaud’s phenomenon
Raynaud’s phenomenon is not a well-known medical condition so we felt that it would be useful to write a blog which could help raise awareness.  Also we hope that this will provide people who have Raynaud’s phenomenon with an opportunity to share their experiences of the illness.

Simply put, Raynaud’s phenomenon is when the supply of blood to the extremities in particular the feet and hands, is halted.  It happens when blood vessels go into spasm preventing the flow of blood.  An affected area will change to white until normal service (of the blood) is resumed.  These attacks can last from a few minutes to even a few hours in some cases.

It is one of those medical conditions which goes into remission i.e. it comes and goes.  In some cases it can disappear completely.

As discoloration is the main symptom of Raynaud’s phenomenon it’s worth mentioning that it goes in three stages:-

a)  Stage One – the affected area turns white because of lack of blood.

b) Stage two – – the area then turns blue because of lack of oxygen.

c)   Stage Three – finally the area turns red with the return of  the blood supply.

A number of people with Raynaud’s phenomenon have noted that the condition becomes worse in the winter months.

Interesting treatments are typically non-invasive, for example just wearing gloves can help.  Others find relaxation exercises of great value.

But how about you?  One of the aims of this blog is to find out how our readers deal with Raynaud’s phenomenon.

It would be great if you could use the comments box below to share a bit about your Raynaud’s phenomenon story.  You might care to consider some of the following questions when commenting below:-

1) How old were you when you first started to suffer from Raynaud’s phenomenon?

2) What was your initial reaction to the first attack?

3) Would you please describe a typical attack?  How long did it last?

4) Is there any pattern to your attacks?  I.e. cold weather.

5) What treatments do you use and how effective are these treatments?

6) What overall impact has Raynaud’s phenomenon made upon your lifestyle?

Please note these are only guidelines.  It would be great if you could share any aspect of your journey with Raynaud’s phenomenon.

Many thanks in advance.

 

14 comments
joannamaree78
joannamaree78

I am a 38 year old female.  I used to during my 20s always get 1 or 2 fingers that would turn white mainly on the tips.  It never hurt, it was always just a bit of a novelty.  I was never someone that complained of the cold.  This year since about May I have been having regular attacks.  It started with all of the fingers of 1 hand, then it actually started in my left hand.  The attacks were not during the coldest part of the day or night but it was starting winter (I live in NZ).  By August it was actually starting to hurt with the amount of time my fingers were numb (1-2 hours).  It was impacting on my life.  Would happen when I  really needed my hands to work the most (driving etc).  We have had a really stressful year and I have read that stress is a pre-cursor for raynauds.  I finally went to the dr when I had an attack every day for a fortnight.  It started at the same time every day and was lasting at least an hour.  It also started on my toes.  I had never had cold feet/bad circulation but now they are like constant iceboxes and 2-3 toes will go white.  The dr  thought I might have lupus as I had a few other symptoms.  He did a blood test that came back weak positive.  The next blood test came back negative.  Not sure where to from here as it actually feels like the increase in attacks is my bodies way of telling me something is amiss but I dont want to keep going back to the dr.  Just to add, my grandmother had raynauds, I have an uncle that gets it mildly too.  We have alot of autoimmune disorders in my family, (Graves diease, fibromyalgia, Crohns,) and there is also heart disease (same uncle that has raynauds and mother have both had heart attacks very recently)

southbound72871
southbound72871

Is there some link to fibromyalgia? I was 43 and one day I was reaching for something and my had just cramped up so bad. I don't know if was that day or the next but my wrist was hurting so bad then my index finger and thumb started getting real cold and turned extreamly cold. The pain was so bad I went to the er.all they did there is look at it and sent me home with vicodin. Well within the next day or so I went to my pain med doc and he referred me to a vascular surgeon. Before I could make it to the Dr appointment which was a month away I was back in the er. My finger and thumb was white with a tinge of blue and the pain was unbarable. My hand was extremely cold and I couldn't warm it up. I told the er docs about the visit to the pain med doc and my referral to the vascular surgeon. They called him and he put me on Procardia and aspirin. My BP was out the roof and my pulse was extremely high. I got the meds and no explanation of what it might be. Within a week I was a the vascular surgeon and he told me what was up. He said it can be caused by smoking,stress or a blood clot. Which I know I had the first two in extreme. Now though I still have pain,numbness and tingling constantly. I was just wondering is it an autoimmune disease? or did the doc just leave that out? . Is it connected to fibromyalgia? I don't know about you but the lack of concern and information from the docs are disturbing.

amydaw
amydaw

I a m a 41 year old female and I was dx with Reynaud's when I was 3 years old. I was living in Natick, Massachusetts and at the time, I was the youngest person dx with this circulatory, autoimmune disease. I went up to my mom (at 3 years old), and my hands were completed blue.She thought I got into an ink pen but when she figured out I did not, it was off to Boston ' s Children's Hospital. After many blood tests and collaborations from different Dr.s, they came to the conclusion that I indeed had Reynaud's. My family was not military, but the Natick army hospital became aware of my case and my mother agreed to let them do research on me. They drew lots of blood every week, but most importantly, they taught me how to do biofeedback, to control my body temperature with my mind. This seemed to help a lot. I had more issues in Massachusetts, but I moved to AZ when I was 9, and I don't have issues here. Occasionally, I will turn white on my fingers and toes if I get cold, but it is resolved quickly. Ironically, I was dx with multiple sclerosis 12 years ago. I just stopped working in March, because unfortunately, my ms progressed. It is said that once you have an autoimmune disease, you are susceptible to getting another one. I was just talking with my husband about Reynaud's today. Such a strange coincidence that I would come across this post on twitter. :)

IrelandKuykendall
IrelandKuykendall

I'm cold natured, feet and hands are usually cold. I can't even walk outside in 60 degree weather without it feeling like someone is jabbing an ice pick into both my ear drums. I have to fidget and squirm in my seat during lectures to keep warm. But the only place I truly have Reynaud's is in my nipples. It made breastfeeding beyond excruciating. Worst pain of my entire life - every couple of hours, all day, every day for 6 months. I was 17, no one told me about WIC and I couldn't afford formula so It was suck it up or starve my baby. I'm 36 now and babies 2, 3, and 4 were not breastfed I can assure you! Misereable, miserable thing Reynaud's is!

HappyHomemaker
HappyHomemaker

I had a doctor diagnose me with Reynauds.  My fingers and toes don't turn white, but they do feel like their on fire burning and stinging with the slightest cold weather.

yepitsmesl
yepitsmesl

I have Raynauds which oddly enough came on when I began particular type of seizure meds approx 18 years- give or take. Only in the cold is it brought on and only in the same fingers. Here in a colder state makes it entirely more difficult at times. What works best for me is warm water followed by message and movement of the area to sitmulate circulation. It has only impacted my life when attempting to perform activities, yard work or shoveling when it is cold. Double padding gloves helps. I am a nurse so I know my scope of treatments are limited being I have to take the meds and do know my options of treatment, very little. The attacks very in length.  Sometime pain is included when the ciruculation is restored but that doesnt last long. As for any long term dammage, that has yet to be determined.

DemetriosMourouzis
DemetriosMourouzis

I first noticed my finger was white about 11 years ago in the winter of 2003.  I'm fair skinned to begin with but even with that the contrast was drastic.  When I say "white" It was as if my middle finger had been dipped in white paint up to the knuckle.  Clearly there was no blood flowing past the knuckle and It was a little scary my mind started racing...  Why is there no blood flow?  How do I get it back?  What if it never comes back, Will my finger die?  My finger didn't hurt at all but it was cold, this lead me to run it under warm water and doing this caused skin color to return.


I asked a friend of mine who works as a nurse and she told me it was Raynaud’s syndrome and it's not that big of a deal.  Doctors aren't sure what causes it but it's not serious and not to worry about it.


I didn't happen again for a couple year, then I started noticing it more and more.  These past 2 or years It's occurred several times always the same finger, always during the winter and only when my skin is exposed.   I'd attribute the increased frequency to me spending more time outdoors in the winter combined with I rarely use gloves.


Raynaud’s hasn't impacted me at all, when it strikes I'll run my hand under warm water if possible, or put my hand in my pocket.  It never hurts.

AndreaLuttmerGille
AndreaLuttmerGille

I started symptoms as a child.  I remember sitting in the classroom with purple hands.  Cold is my definite enemy.  Sometimes I get so cold, I have to take a warm bath or shower to warm up my feet.  Pain especially if my hands get too cold.  Running warm water over my hands has helped and then again the pain as my hands warm up.  If I have to go to the hospital for any reason, I have to tell them to keep me warm or they are never going to get an IV in.  I'm tired of being a pincushion.  I also have extemely dry skin on the hands - not sure if this is a sign or not but nothing seems to take down the dryness. 

KittyRockabilly
KittyRockabilly

At a young age I had scarlet fever. I was so ill, my fever shot up  to 104*. After that,  I want to say I was always sensitive to my environment.  I remember being around the age of 7. I was grabbing ice cubes out of the freezer and I dropped them all over the floor.  I remember the sharp burning pain I felt while carrying them I started crying in pain. My mom thought I was being over dramatic, and just upset because I dropped them.  


I always reacted to my environment extreme heat I'd pass out, extreme cold I'd freeze.  When I would shower I would always have red patches all over my body for hours. So I always showered the night before.  I suffered from migraines, dizziness, asthma, pain everywhere, PMDD, Infertility, Depression. Every time I would ask for help, no one believed me or would tell me I was too sensitive and relax.   I was diagnosed with Raynaud's at the age of 30, I am now 36.  


Winter typically is when I have an attack. I will feel like I'm freezing, feet and hands like clammy blocks of ice. But the center of my body will feel extremely hot like it can't release the heat.  I will get pain from handling anything extremely cold. I have to wear gloves to go into the freezer. Cold water or water that is too hot either extreme causes my hands or feet great distress. Especially in the shower.  I don't take any special medication for the condition.  Just wear finger-less gloves often and always socks, but I have to be barefoot in the summertime.


I use to be quite handy with crafting and artwork, but Raynauds has impacted my life to the point I've kind of given up on my old passions.  My hands get so sensitive the older I get. I even have to be careful with jewelry due to swelling of fingers and just hitting them on stuff will cause pain.  I know I'm young at heart and hope there is still a chance we can find a cure or medication that will help us with Raynaud's.


-Kit

@KittyRockabilly

thisbearbites
thisbearbites

I think this started when I was a child of age 8.That is my earliest memory of symptoms. I can remember playing in the snow with my brothers. I would have to go inside, usually crying, until the pain subsided. I would repeat cycles 2-3 times during a play period, while my siblings would just keep playing with no adverse affect. I didn't understand how they couldn't feel it!

The older I got the quicker the reaction time. In high school I could hold a cool beverage, but disliked having to get the ice. I quit trying to play in the snow completely. It wasn't worth it. My family made fun of me. By this time I had other health issues appearing (I believe I had juvenile arthritis.) My doctors had already labeled me a hypochondriac.

Now at 51, I can't hold ice at all or even a cold beverage. My drink ware all has handles to distance me from the cold. If drinking from a contain (like a soda) When eating out, or getting a to go beverage, I wrap all my beverages in napkins to insulate. My fridge has an automatic dispenser. Long before temperatures even hit freezing, my gloves are out. I may not need a jacket, but I do need gloves. I keep slippers at the ready for cool floors. We recently installed a wood furnace in our basement. I never knew floors could feel so good! The radiant heat is heaven!

Sometimes exposure of too hot temps can now cause a similar reaction. I must be very careful of water temperature. My showers are lukewarm, year round.

I have lost my favorite past time of all, swimming, unless in a heated pool, and preferably a therapeutic pool - which increases the cost and takes away locality.

It is taking longer and longer for the redness stage to subside. I inadvertently got my hands chilled while out early this afternoon, even though I was wearing heavy lined wool mittens. (I find mittens better than gloves for stabilizing my hand temperatures. It was in the upper twenties and I was exposed for less than 20 minutes.  Nine hours later my hands are still hot, swollen, and sore. The pain is radiating past my wrists. My feet are still tender, but not to the extent of my hands.

I keep a blanket on my legs and feet year round while sitting.

I was started on Nifedipine in the past year. My overall hand health has improved some, but I have not got relief from the Raynaud's.

I become so much more isolated in the winter. (I live in Iowa) I can't help with outside chores. I can't play with my grandchildren at all in the snow. When my children were young I was limited to short jaunts. No more hunting with my husband. I can't go out at all when temps become too frigid. I have even canceled doctor appointments when it is too cold. Just needing a food item from the freezer is a daunting task unless I have gloves handy. I can't even hold  bowl of ice cream without a towel to insulate me from the cold. I can no longer enjoy past hobbies like 3 season camping. I can no longer do fall and spring and am losing summer quickly. Gloves can help some, but they are limited. There is no real relief other than to abstain from much of life 3 seasons of the year.

As far as the rest of my health I have RA, RDS, Sjogren's Syndrome, Autoimmune Hepatitis, and that's just the short list. In the future according to my family history I can look forward to

I have had adenomyosis, which led to multiple miscarriages and PID or as my doctor's diagnosed me - hypochondria - until menopause at age 22 ad a hysterectomy at 23. Add to my health history histoplasmosis, various kidney problems, a bone cyst, gall bladder's gone, and multiple bouts of Staph infections MRSA, and pneumonia. It hasn't been a wonderful life.

BjRO2014
BjRO2014

@thisbearbites I have been labeled as hypochondriac for many yrs. Excuse my language  Pesses me off! I am 63 yr old.  They kept telling me I needed to do something more than to think about what I thought I seen or felt.  Until at Frankenmuth MI parade,  people walking by were really concerned about my PURPLE Legs and FEET.  They just found out I have a Genetic GERMAN condition from my Dads side of family which caused heart, infertility thyroid and Now RRMS!!!  I could not get pregnant even with introvetro insemination and had shots and pills which put me in menopause at age 28.  Then I took Fosamax for yrs which rotted my jaws  and lost my bottom molars and cannot be fitted for dentures.(NO BONE ) I have been diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome, Hashimotos Hypothyroidism, Mytro Valve Prolapse.  Right after MVP diagnosis and Raynauds I was have missed heart beats, light headed and told again about hypochondriac!   Surprise , this faint and terrible heart stuff occurred when office closed and by time get to ER GONE!  Until one night June 10, 2003 I could not make it back to bed and fell TORE OFF MY LIP  3 front teeth  roots through roof of mouth (Now MRSA) then husband horrified my dog trying to help me, woke up when my dog jumped on him to HELP me. My husband not thinking picked me up put me in car and drove me to hospital.  2 Days prior I went to Dr and stated I was severely dizzy and my heart hurt.  He told me it was my sinus and to get over it.  *(Now this is  3rd Doctor I found out later whom said I had no problems but 1 did state may have Lupus! and she did not want pt with that!)   Well at Hospital they Told my husband and I  that I had serious problem!  I needed immediate Aortic Heart Valve replacement. WHAT!!!  Yes it was not working hardly at all. They needed to call my Dr.  I sat up TOLD THEM HE HAD HIS CHANCE HE"S FIRED!!  They said I cannot fire him.  So I made my employer whom  worked for a Dr my doctor to his SHOCK! Heart Drs said it was a wonder I did not die it had almost quit working. My hands feet and legs are so cold all the time.  I wear my husbands long underwear.  They are a lot warmer.  MS gas caused me to lose feeling in almost entire outer body.  I do not know if I cut myself unless deep until where  I have feeling.


ChrissyKarrBungay
ChrissyKarrBungay

Do some research into Chronic Lyme Disease... There have been several who suffered for years with same debilitating illnesses searching for someone to figure it out. I myself am battling the illness x3 yrs. It's a beast. Just make sure you look at more then the CDCs website... You'll see it's way more common then one thinks.

Chrissy

thisbearbites
thisbearbites

@ChrissyKarrBungay I have been tested intensively for Lyme disease, but everything has came back clear. My docs do feel there is more they are missing, but tests aren't finding anything.