Health Information

Raynaud's Phenomenon

What is Raynaud's phenomenon?

Raynaud's phenomenon or, simply, Raynaud's, is a disorder characterized by decreased blood flow - usually to the fingers, and less frequently to the ears, toes, nipples, knees, or nose. Vascular spasms usually occur as attacks in response to cold exposure, stress, or emotional upset.

Raynaud's can occur alone (primary form) or may occur with other diseases (secondary form). The diseases most frequently associated with Raynaud's are autoimmune or connective tissue diseases, among others, such as the following:
  • systemic lupus erythematous (lupus)
  • scleroderma
  • CREST syndrome (calcium skin deposits, Raynaud's phenomenon, esophageal dysmotility, sclerodactyly, telangiectasis)
  • Buerger's disease
  • Sjögren's syndrome
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • occlusive vascular disease
  • polymyositis
  • cryoglobulinemia

What causes Raynaud's phenomenon?

The exact cause of Raynaud's is unknown. One theory links blood disorders characterized by increased platelets or red blood cells that may increase the blood thickness. Another theory involves the special receptors in the blood that control the constriction of the blood vessels are shown to be more sensitive in individuals with Raynaud's.

Treatment for Raynaud's phenomenon:

Specific treatment for Raynaud's phenomenon will be determined by your physician based on:
  • your age, overall health, and medical history
  • extent of the disease
  • your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, and therapies
  • expectation for the course of the disease
  • your opinion or preference