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.

Quick GuideLupus Symptoms, Rash, and Treatment

Lupus Symptoms, Rash, and Treatment

What tests do health-care professionals use to diagnose Raynaud's phenomenon?

In patients with the characteristic sequence of skin-color changes of the digits upon cold exposure, diagnosing RP is not difficult. Sometimes, certain patterns in the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) adjacent to the fingernails of patients with RP can be seen using a magnifying viewing instrument. Abnormal nail-fold capillary patterns can suggest the possibility of an associated rheumatic condition. There is, however, no single blood test to help the doctor to confirm the diagnosis. The doctor can order certain blood tests (for example, sedimentation rate, rheumatoid factor, antinuclear antibody, thyroid hormone levels, and protein levels) to exclude associated rheumatic diseases and thyroid disorders. The doctor can also perform certain maneuvers with the patient's extremities to exclude pinched blood vessels that can produce symptoms that mimic RP, such as in thoracic outlet syndrome.

Typically, patients with Raynaud's phenomenon that is a manifestation of a rheumatic disease have elevated blood sedimentation rates and antinuclear antibodies. Furthermore, capillary nail-fold abnormalities can frequently be found as described above.

What specialties of doctors treat Raynaud's phenomenon?

Doctors who treat Raynaud's phenomenon include general-medicine physicians, family medicine physicians, internists, rheumatologists, and hand surgeons. 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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