Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

What Can Cause Raynaud's Syndrome?

The cause of the Raynaud’s syndrome is not still clear but vasoconstriction is assumed to be causing it. Raynaud’s syndrome is a medical condition characterized by poor blood circulation in hands (fingers) and legs (toes) triggered by extreme cold or emotional stress. The spasm of smaller arteries causes the reduction in blood flow where the episode is temporary or won’t last a minute. Sometimes, in rare cases, it may last up to several hours. It affects all age’s people and women are likely more affected when compared to men. Twenty percent of the adult populations in the world are affected by this occurrence. It appears to be more common in people who live in colder climates. It is not considered as disabling, but it has a negative impact affects the quality of life.

Maurice Raynaud first described the vasospasm of arterioles. It is noted that Raynaud’s disease is different from Raynaud’s phenomenon. They are dissimilar illnesses; however, share a parallel term. Raynaud’s disease is the incidence of the spasm alone. It is primary Raynaud’s with no other clinical association of any ailments. Whereas Raynaud’s phenomenon is also known as secondary Raynaud’s associated with other diseased condition i.e., generally an autoimmune disease.

What Can Cause Raynaud's Syndrome?

Type of Raynaud's Syndrome

Raynaud’s syndrome is broadly described into two types i.e., primary and secondary Raynaud’s. The primary disorder is benign phase disease where young women mostly get affected and it is temporary without serious consequence. About 1 in 20 people develop Raynaud's syndrome. Up to 9 in 10 cases are primary Raynaud's. While the secondary Raynaud’s is the result of collagen tissue disease usually associated with ischemic lesions. The primary disorder is predominantly diagnosed by their clinical manifestation. In contrast, secondary disorder needs further studying like imaging and routine biochemical tests for the identification of the underlying disease.

Important Concept Of Secondary Raynaud’s

Secondary Raynaud’s Ischemic is a life threatening stage that is characterized by severe pain and descending positioning of hand. The untreated condition may lead to ulceration or gangrene. The ischemic lesions are described in three phases. Phase one is the paleness because of vasoconstriction in precapillary muscular arterioles. Phase two is cyanosis due to venous pooling and deoxygenation of venous blood and Phase three is the erythema condition because of reactive hyperemia and mostly accompanying with throbbing pain.

The majority of cases of secondary Raynaud's are associated with autoimmune conditions, which cause the immune system to attack healthy tissue. Autoimmune disorders and connective tissue disorder such as systemic sclerosis, Buerger's disease, Sjogren syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus, polymyositis, dermatomyositis, rheumatoid arthritis, cryoglobulinemia, antiphospholipid syndrome, primary biliary cirrhosis and primary pulmonary hypertension are some of them.

Certain medications also cause secondary Raynaud's. These include birth control pills, blood pressure medicine, allergy medicine, migraine medications that contain ergotamine or sumatriptan, hyperactivity disorder medications, certain chemotherapy drugs that cause blood vessels to narrow and cold medications.

Signs and Symptoms of Raynaud's syndrome

The victims often complain of pain or numbness. The symptoms show paleness and rarely cyanosis in the distal two-thirds of the fingers. Because of lack of oxygen supply in blood arteries, cyanosis occurs (bluish discoloration to your hands or feet). Some cases, lips, ears, and nose show pallor. While the manifestation of this disease, affected areas of the skin usually first turn white and the blue. Immediate warming improves circulation and the affected areas turn to red. It will take less than 15 minutes for normal blood flow in the affected area.

General Prevention and Management Measures

Avoid smoking (including passive smoking); protection from extreme cold, vibrating tools (drilling) and stress environment are necessary. During cold weather, predisposed individuals must keep the body warm by wearing gloves, mittens, stocking, and woolens. Relaxing procedures and empowering words to reduce the emotional stress among susceptible persons are some of the effective methods. Prognosis of primary Raynaud’s is usually very good, with no death report whereas, secondary Raynaud’s is based on the underlying disease condition. Prognosis depends on the severity of the ischemia and the effectiveness of maneuvers to restore blood flow.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: September 19, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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