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: 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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Comment from: California Girl 1957, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 12

I have systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), secondary high blood pressure, and secondary Raynaud"s phenomenon, and at least once or twice a year secondary bronchitis that sometimes goes into pneumonia. I also get migraines from both hereditary reasons and from the 6 disintegrating neck vertebrae due to an old work injury. I"ve had the Raynaud"s as many decades as the lupus. It"s been better and worse over the years. It affects both hands and both feet. They turn cold, white and sometimes blue. I"ve had periods of time when my legs and fingers were itching, burning, painful, ulcerated, bleeding, and split open and took months to heal, sometimes just to ulcerate or split open all over again. Limiting time spent on my feet helps. For the last 2 years the problem is markedly worse on my left side. It does not improve if I"m sitting or lying down. My left hand, and especially my entire left leg, worst of all my left foot, turn ice cold; sometimes with numbness, sometimes not. Others can feel the marked difference in how very cold my left extremities are, especially my leg and more so my foot. The only solution that helps is wrapping those extremities in a blanket to warm them. Wearing a sock to bed also helps my left foot. I am concerned as to why my left side is now so dramatically affected, while my right side is much more mildly affected.

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