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Raynaud's Phenomenon

What Is Raynaud's Phenomenon?

Raynaud's phenomenon is a disorder characterized by blood vessel abnormality caused by overactivity of smooth muscle in the wall of arteries, leading to spasms (vasospasms with narrowing) of the small vessels that supply blood to the arms, legs, hands, feet, and sometimes the ears and nose. The typical features of Raynaud's phenomenon include changes in the color of skin from pale to bluish to red, which typically occur after exposure to cold temperatures. Raynaud's phenomenon is usually diagnosed in people younger than 40 years of age and occurs five times more frequently in women than in men. The disorder is sometimes referred to as "white fingers disease."

What Is the Cause of Raynaud's Phenomenon?

The classification of Raynaud's phenomenon is usually separated in two categories: idiopathic or primary Raynaud's phenomenon, when no associated disease is identified, and Raynaud's phenomenon secondary to other diseases (usually autoimmune).

  • Factors that can bring on Raynaud's phenomenon (all vasoconstrictive influences), include the following:
    • Exposure to cold or hot environments
    • Mental stressors
    • Certain occupations (vibration from tools, like jackhammers)
    • Smoking (nicotine is a stimulant/vasoconstrictor)
    • Chemical exposure (such as vinyl chloride)
  • Diseases causing Raynaud's phenomenon
  • Medications that may cause or worsen Raynaud's phenomenon
Picture of Raynaud's phenomenon
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/3/2016
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Raynaud's Phenomenon Pregnancy - Treatment

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Symptoms of Raynaud's Phenomenon

Cold Hands and Feet

  • Raynaud's phenomenon refers to constriction of the blood vessels of the hands or feet in response to cold exposure. Raynaud's phenomenon causes white, then blue, then red-colored fingertips and toes and is often painful.

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