Raynaud's Syndrome, also known as Raynaud's Phenomenon, is a condition that affects the blood vessels in the fingers and toes. It is characterized by episodes of vasospasm, or the constriction of blood vessels, in response to cold temperatures or contact with cold. The constriction can lead to numbness, tingling and pain.
The condition is named after French physician Maurice Raynaud, who first described the phenomenon in the late 19th century. It is estimated that up to 10 million people in the UK are affected, most of whom are female.
There are two types of Raynaud's: primary and secondary. Primary Raynaud's, also known as Raynaud's Disease, is the most common form of the condition and is considered to be a benign disorder. It is typically not associated with any underlying medical condition and is considered to be a standalone disorder. Secondary Raynaud's, also known as Raynaud's Phenomenon, is caused by an underlying medical 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.
Symptoms of Raynaud's Syndrome can vary from person to person. Some people may only experience mild symptoms, while others may have more severe symptoms.
Numbness or tingling in the fingers, toes and/or nose
White, blue or purple discoloration of the fingers, toes and/or nose
Coldness and pain in the area
Swelling or redness of the fingers, toes and/or nose.
Whilst there is no cure, the symptoms can be managed and the condition lived with generally well. Lifestyle changes and adaptations to activity will help along with a healthy lifestyle. Keeping active to ensure good circulation is also beneficial. Medication such as that used to control high blood pressure can also help relax the blood vessels to aid circulation.
If you suspect that you may have Raynaud's Syndrome, it is important to speak with your GP. They can help determine the best course of treatment for you and provide you with the support and resources you need to manage the problem.