Raynaud’s disease (Ray-nodes) means that the small blood vessels in the extremities such as the hands, feet, fingers or toes are over-sensitive to even the slightest changes in temperature, cold conditions and sometimes stress.
The common symptoms are changes in colour (but not always), from white, to blue, to red. Other symptoms can include: pain; numbness; pins and needles; difficulty moving the affected area. There are two different types of Raynaud’s: primary and secondary. Primary Raynaud’s is more common and usually less serious as the condition tends to be fairly manageable.
Occurs by itself, without being associated with another health condition. This is often a mild condition and there are ways to help manage the symptoms. People with primary Raynaud’s usually have no other related complications, and will rarely go on to develop an additional problem. If you have primary Raynaud’s, it is important to see your GP if you are worried about the symptoms or any other health issues.
Caused by another condition, usually an autoimmune disease like scleroderma or lupus. Secondary Raynaud’s needs more investigation and more careful monitoring for complications like ulceration or sores. If you notice a change in your symptoms or you have any other health concerns, it is important to discuss this with your GP, who may carry out some tests to rule out other conditions. All children with suspected Raynaud’s phenomenon should see their GP.
Raynaud’s phenomenon is common affecting up to 5% of the population. It does not usually cause any severe problems and can often be managed by keeping warm. Sometimes it can be a sign of a more serious condition.
Raynaud’s phenomenon has been reported as the first sign of disease in 61–70% of children with juvenile systemic sclerosis, 58% of children with mixed connective tissue disease, and 16% of children with juvenile dermatomyositis — early identification and specialist management is essential to minimise later complications (Pain, 2016).
With a full history of the symptoms and a detailed physical examination, your Physiotherapist can give you a fast and accurate diagnosis so that the most effective treatment and management can be initiated immediately.
Your Physiotherapist will educate you on the condition and will provide you with useful strategies to help manage your symptoms which may include:
Speak to your doctor about treatment. Nifedipine, a calcium channel blocker, is licensed for Raynaud’s, and there are drugs that are prescribed commonly for Raynaud’s too. Nifedipine doesn’t cure Raynaud’s, but can help to relieve symptoms.
Pain CE, Constantin T, Toplak N, Moll M, Iking-Konert C, Piotto DP, Aktay Ayaz N, Nemcova D, Hoeger PH, Cutolo M, Smith V, Foeldvari I; Paediatric Rheumatology European Society (PRES) Juvenile Scleroderma Working Group. (2016) Raynaud’s syndrome in children: systematic review and development of recommendations for assessment and monitoring. Clin Exp