Raynaud's Phenomenon & Raynaud's Disease
What is Raynaud's syndrome?
Your body had the ability to control circulation throughout the body without your thinking about it. If you go for a run, the blood is shunted towards your muscles. If you eat a big meal, the blood is shunted towards your gut. And when it's cold outside, your body shunts the blood away from the fingers and toes, in order to keep the organs inside the body warm.
The nervous system that controls these sorts of involuntary actions is known as the "autonomic nervous system".
In some people, however, the body's internal thermostat is a little too hypersensitive, so that the blood is shunted away from the fingers and toes with even modest amounts of cold. This condition is known as Raynaud's disease, named after the French physician who first described the condition 1889.
Is Raynaud's syndrome the same as Raynaud's phenomenon and Raynaud's disease?
The terminology is a bit confusing, with many physicians throwing around the terms as being synonymous and others reserving each term to mean variations of the same process. For example, Raynaud's Disease is often used to indicate some systemic problems (like connective tissue disease, dysfunction of the esophagus, atherosclerosis, tarsal tunnel, Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, etc.) associated with the Raynaud's syndrome.
Who gets Raynaud's syndrome?
There are several factors in determining who might be susceptible:
What does it look like?
Raynaud's syndrome is seen most frequently in the
fingers alone (60%), but it is seen in the toes about 40% of the time.
When the toes are involved, it rarely develops there first.
How is it diagnosed?
Usually by history and physical exam alone, though lab work (thermograpy, capillary microscopy and a positive Anti-Nuclear Antibody (ANA) blood test, e.g..)
How is it treated?
A variety of things may help:
Medications that may help include: