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.

Keep Your Thyroid in Check

Quick GuideLupus Symptoms, Rash, and Treatment

Lupus Symptoms, Rash, and Treatment

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

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.


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

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Newsletters

Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

  • Raynaud's Phenomenon - Describe Your Experience

    Please describe your experience with Raynaud's phenomenon.

    Post View 51 Comments
  • Raynaud's Phenomenon - Treatments

    What was your treatment for Raynaud's phenomenon?

    Post View 54 Comments
  • Raynaud's Phenomenon -Symptoms

    What symptoms have you experienced with your Raynaud's phenomenon?

    Post View 12 Comments

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors