Raynaud's Phenomenon - Describe Your Experience

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What is Raynaud's phenomenon?

Raynaud's phenomenon (RP) is a condition resulting in a particular series of discolorations of the fingers and/or the toes after exposure to changes in temperature (cold or hot) or emotional events. Skin discoloration occurs because an abnormal spasm of the blood vessels causes a diminished blood supply to the local tissues. Initially, the digit(s) involved turn white because of the diminished blood supply. The digit(s) then turn blue because of prolonged lack of oxygen. Finally, the blood vessels reopen, causing a local "flushing" phenomenon, which turns the digit(s) red. This three-phase color sequence (white to blue to red), most often upon exposure to cold temperature, is characteristic of RP.

Raynaud's phenomenon most frequently affects women, especially in the second, third, or fourth decades of life. People can have Raynaud's phenomenon alone or as a part of other rheumatic diseases. Raynaud's phenomenon in children is essentially identical to Raynaud's phenomenon in adults. When it occurs alone, it is referred to as "Raynaud's disease" or primary Raynaud's phenomenon. When it accompanies other diseases, it is called secondary Raynaud's phenomenon.

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Comment from: Nikki, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: February 14

I"m a 21 year old female. I was diagnosed at 16 with Raynaud's phenomenon. My fingers, toes and ears turn red, then purple, then almost black when I"m exposed to any kind of cold. It"s extremely painful and I often lose the feeling in my hands. I get chilblains and frostbite on my toes and recently on my index finger on my right hand. I shake uncontrollably when stressed and trying to warm up is very difficult. The only times my hands are warm is when I"ve just exercised and in heat waves. I can put my hands on radiators for up to fifteen seconds before they start to burn. I have frequent muscle spasms which may or may not be related.

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Comment from: Stacey, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: March 18

Although I"ve never been diagnosed by a doctor, I know my condition is Raynaud"s. When my hands get cold for any reason, several fingers on both hands turn white and cause mild/moderate pain. I also lose sensation in those fingers. I usually try to warm my whole body in those moments by drinking hot tea, adding layers of clothing or a blanket. I definitely am a mitten person my fingers can"t be separated when it"s cold! I"ve found that as I get older, I"m now 43, more fingers are affected than when it first started about 10 years ago. When I"m home I can get relief fairly quickly, but when I"m skiing it can last hours.

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