Raynaud's Phenomenon

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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What causes Raynaud's phenomenon?

The causes of primary and secondary RP are unknown. Both abnormal nerve control of the blood-vessel diameter and nerve sensitivity to cold exposure have been suspected as being contributing factors. The characteristic color changes of the digits are in part related to initial blood-vessel narrowing due to spasm of the tiny muscles in the wall of the vessels, followed by sudden opening (dilation), as described above. The small arteries of the digits can have microscopic thickness of their inner lining, which also leads to abnormal narrowing of the blood vessels.

What are risk factors from Raynaud's phenomenon?

Risk factors for Raynaud's phenomenon include injury from frostbite and vibrating tools, medications (bleomycin [Blenoxane]), propranolol (Inderal), ergotamine), and having rheumatic diseases such as scleroderma, systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjögren's syndrome, mixed connective tissue disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.

What conditions have been associated with Raynaud's phenomenon?

Raynaud's phenomenon has been seen with a number of conditions, including rheumatic diseases (scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and mixed connective tissue disease), hormone imbalance (hypothyroidism and carcinoid), trauma (frostbite, vibrating tools), medications (propranolol [Inderal], estrogens without additional progesterone, bleomycin [Blenoxane] used in cancer treatment, and ergotamine used for headaches), nicotine, and even rarely with cancers. Continue Reading

Reviewed on 5/13/2016
References
REFERENCES:

Kasper, D., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2015.

Koopman, William, et al., eds. Clinical Primer of Rheumatology. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2003.

Ruddy, Shaun, et al., eds. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology, 6th ed. Philadelphia: Saunders, 2001.

IMAGES:

1. MedicineNet

2. "A thermal image demonstrating the loss of heat in a Reynaud's sufferer" by Joe m2013 - Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons

3. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

3. iStock

4. eMedicineHealth - Image courtesy of Shabir Bhimji, MD / Tcal at English Wikipedia / Walt Fletcher at English Wikipedia

5. Getty Images

6. iStock

7. iStock

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