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Raynaud’s

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Introduction

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.

 

Signs & Symptoms

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.

Causes

Primary Raynaud’s

 

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.

 

Secondary Raynaud’s

 

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.

Prevalence

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).

Assessment & Diagnosis

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.

Self-Management

Your Physiotherapist will educate you on the condition and will provide you with useful strategies to help manage your symptoms which may include:

 

  • Keep warm – Minimise time in cold environments and touching cold items. Slight change in temperature can cause a flare up. Wear lots of thin layers and loose clothing in order to remain as warm as possible. Use hand warmers, gloves and thick socks to keep cold fingers and toes comfortable on chilly days. There are some more products to help keep warm in our online shop such as thermal shoe insoles and fleece blanket.
  • Stress can flare up Raynaud’s symptoms, using relaxation and pacing strategies can be very useful in managing symptoms.

 

Other Considerations

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.

Additional Resources

NHS information page – Click here

 

Scleroderma and Raynaud’s UK website – Click here

References

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

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