Fingers and toes that go cold and numb very easily. It is often called “dead fingers”, these two similar conditions cause numbness and tingling in the fingers or toes; they are more common in women and sometimes run in families.

The symptoms are due to sudden narrowing of the arteries in the hands or, rarely, the feet because of hypersensitivity to cold. Smoking and exposure to cold may trigger attacks.
In about half of all people with Raynaud’s phenomenon, the condition is associated with another disorder such as rheumatoid arthritis. Certain drugs, such as beta-blockers, are known to produce the symptoms of Raynaud’s phenomenon as a side effect.

If there is no apparent cause for the condition, it’s known as Raynaud’s disease, which is most common in women between the ages of 15 and 45 and is usually mild. It can be
triggered by smoking, because the nicotine in cigarettes constricts the arteries. Exposure to cold and handling frozen items can also trigger an attack.

Rarely the condition is due to abnormal proteins, cold agglutinins, in the blood, which show up when the extremities get cold or the body cools down.

Causes of Raynaud’s disease

This is an issue with the tiny blood vessels in the fingers and toes. In individuals with Raynaud’s disease these blood vessels are oversensitive to cold; they are slow to relax on heating and narrow in response to quite small changes in temperature. The illness is more common in girls and usually other family members arc changed.

This would give other symptoms too, although sometimes there’s some other underlying condition that attacks the blood vessels, including systemic lupus erythematosus. In such instances the illness is called Raynaud’s phenomenon. Additionally, it may result from using vibrating machines for long amounts of time, and from taking beta blockers for high blood pressure.

Symptoms of Raynaud’s disease

They go white, due to constriction of the most tiny arteries in the digits, and then blue, due to the resultant poor and stagnant blood circulation when the fingers or toes get somewhat cooled. They feel numb as they warm up they slowly recover standard colour, and frequently pine until completely recovered.

Both the hands and feet can be affected and an attack can last from a few minutes to a few hours. Symptoms include:

  • Numbness and tingling in the fingers or toes that may worsen and progress to a painful burning sensation
  • Progressive change of colour in the fingers or toes, which initially turn white, then blue and finally red again as blood returns to the tissues.

There may be a marked colour difference between the affected area and the surrounding tissues. In severe untreated cases, skin ulcers or gangrene may form on the tips of the fingers or toes. The entire cycle can last hours or minutes.

Treatment of Raynaud’s disease

Use common sense; dress and avoid exposure to the cold. Prevent smoking, also, since nicotine causes blood vessels to constrict. People that have serious symptoms can use heated gloves and especially insulated footwear.

There are security regulations about the usage of vibrating equipment in factories. If beta blockers are the cause, there are many options. Drugs called calcium-channel blockers can help by opening up the blood vessels, but are used only for extraordinary cases. You may require blood tests to check on the uncommon illnesses that can underlie acute instances.

Measures of Raynaud’s Disease

  1. Your doctor will carry out tests to look for an underlying cause of your symptoms. For example, blood tests may be performed to look for evidence of rheumatoid arthritis or cold agglutinins.
    Your doctor may suggest that you take drugs to dilate the blood vessels during an attack.
  2. If you smoke, you should stop immediately.
  3. Keeping the body covered up with several layers of warm clothing is helpful.
    Wearing a thermal hat, gloves and socks in cold weather helps avoid the onset of symptoms.
  4. Central heating should keep the ambient temperature on the warm side.
  5. If symptoms are very severe, surgery may be considered to cut the nerves that control arterial constriction.

Complementary Treatments of Raynaud’s disease

Nutritional treatment – attempt nutritional supplements of fatty acids. Ayurveda would use detoxification, oil massage and steam baths with oral circulatory stimulants. Other treatments to attempt; cymatics; tai chi/chi kung; chakra reconciliation; autogenic training; Chinese and Western herbalism.

Image Source: www.nhlbi.nih.gov 

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