Raynaud Phenomenon (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
What Are Complications of Raynaud's Phenomenon?
Uncommonly, Raynaud's phenomenon is recurrent, and the episodes are prolonged enough to cause ulceration and tissue loss on the finger and toe tips. In people who continue to smoke or have Buerger's disease, frank gangrene of the toes and fingers is a real possibility. In some cases, there may be persistent pain and paleness of the digits. Infections are rare but can occur in people who also have diabetes. When complications occur, there is often more workup required to rule out the presence of vasculitis (disease of blood vessels), blood clots, or atherosclerosis.
What Is the Prognosis of Raynaud's Phenomenon?
Raynaud's phenomenon is not life-threatening, but one still needs a thorough, complete exam by the doctor to exclude any secondary causes that may be responsible for it. The symptoms of Raynaud's phenomenon usually go away when the person has moved to a warm environment or has eliminated the stressors that brought on the symptoms.
In those with persistent risk factors, like smoking and exposure to the cold, complications can develop. When the arteries remain constricted for prolonged periods of time, ulceration of the fingertips may occur. This typically complicates scleroderma, with additional thinning and tightening of the skin. To prevent complications, it is vital that patients with Raynaud's phenomenon avoid all situations that trigger the attacks. The hands and feet should always be insulated from the cold.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/3/2016
Steven S. Bhimji, MD, MSc, PhD
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