Raynaud’s (ray-NOHZ) disease causes the distal areas of your body, such as your fingers and toes, to feel numb and cold in response to cold temperatures or stress. In Raynaud’s disease, smaller arteries that supply blood to your skin narrow, limiting blood circulation to affected areas. Women are more likely than men to have Raynaud’s disease. Treatment of Raynaud’s disease depends on its severity and whether you have other health conditions. For most people, Raynaud’s disease isn’t disabling, but can affect quality of life. Signs and symptoms of Raynaud’s depend on the frequency, duration and severity of the blood vessel spasms that underlie the disorder. Raynaud’s disease signs and symptoms include:
- Cold fingers or toes
- Color changes in your skin in response to cold or stress
- Numb feeling or stinging pain upon warming or stress relief. Doctors don’t completely understand the cause of Raynaud’s attacks, but blood vessels in the hands and feet appear to overreact to cold temperatures or stress. With Raynaud’s, arteries to your fingers and toes go into vasospasm when exposed to cold or stress, narrowing your vessels and temporarily limiting blood supply. Over time, these small arteries may thicken slightly, further limiting blood flow. Cold temperatures are most likely to trigger an attack. Exposure to cold, such as putting your hands in cold water, taking something from a freezer or encountering cold air, is the most likely trigger. For some people, emotional stress can cause an episode of Raynaud’s.
- During an attack of Raynaud’s, affected areas of your skin usually first turn white. Then, the affected areas often turn blue and feel cold and numb. As you warm and circulation improves, the affected areas may turn red, throb, tingle or swell. The order of the color changes isn’t the same for everyone, and not everyone experiences all three colors.
In rare cases when Raynaud’s is severe, blood circulation to your fingers or toes could permanently diminish, causing deformities of your fingers or toes. See your doctor right away if you have a history of severe Raynaud’s and develop a sore or infection in one of your affected fingers or toes. If an artery to an affected area becomes blocked completely, sores (skin ulcers) or dead tissue (gangrene) may develop. Ulcers and gangrene can be difficult to treat. In extreme untreated cases, your doctor may need to remove the affected part of your body (amputation). If you are suffering from cold feet call our office in Howell, New Jersey to schedule an appointment with one of our Foot and Ankle Specialists. If you have a history of severe Raynaud’s and develop an ulcer or infection call Affiliated Foot and Ankle Center (732) 905-1110 right away!! By Valerie Gregory