Raynaud’s phenomenon (RP) is a medical condition characterized by poor blood flow, resulting in discomfort and discoloration in the affected parts.
This disorder is named after the French physician, Maurice Raynaud, who first described the condition in the 1800s.
Though it can occur at any age, yet Raynaud’s phenomenon is more common in women between the age group of 15 to 40. According to survey reports, almost 3 percent of the population is inflicted with this disorder.
Forms of Raynaud’s Phenomenon
There are two main forms of Raynaud’s phenomenon .i.e. the primary and secondary. The primary form of Raynaud’s phenomenon is not associated with other diseases and is relatively less severe. Meanwhile, the secondary form of Raynaud’s phenomenon is associated with a group of conditions referred to as connective tissue disease and can have worst consequences.
Smoking is considered as one of the most crucial precipitating factors increasing the frequency and attacks of this disorder. A hormonal component is also likely to be present as a causative factor.
This condition typically causes numbness in some areas of the body and the patient might feel cool in response to cold temperatures or stress.
In this disorder, an occasional narrowing of blood vessels takes place, thus limiting blood flow for brief periods of time, which is also known as vasospasm. During such episodes of vasospasm, the skin is deprived of oxygen and might turn pale and take on a bluish color. When the blood vessels relax and the blood flow resumes, the skin might further turn red.
Though the hands and feet are the most commonly affected areas of the Raynaud’s phenomenon, the condition can also affect other areas including nose, lips, cheeks and earlobes.
The key symptoms of Raynaud’s phenomenon can be listed as below:
- Swelling or tingling
- Aching and throbbing
- Discoloration, generally to blue color
- Pain and numbness
Treatment and Preventive Measures
The treatment modalities for the cure of Raynaud’s phenomenon can be discussed under various subheads. Here we have discussed each of these options in detail.
This mode of treatment primarily involves the doctor’s guidance to the patient in order to avoid the stimulating factors. The main steps in this form of treatment include:
- Keeping extremities warm
- Reducing emotional stress
- Avoiding drugs such as nicotine
The main types of medications used in the treatment of Raynaud’s phenomenon include channel blockers such as nifedipine and alpha-blockers such as prazosin. Other drugs which are often prescribed include fluoxetine and losartan.
However, medications are only resorted to once the conservative approach has failed to bring the desired result.
Surgical techniques are adopted in severe cases of Raynaud’s phenomenon. For instance, surgery might be considered a valid option if the ulceration of fingers in a major problem.
Besides, there are also a series of preventive measures that can be adopted to avoid the occurrence of Raynaud’s phenomenon. The main ones include:
- Wearing thermal fabrics
- Using hand warmers or electric gloves
- Smoking cessation
- Change of job, if required
- Avoiding sympathetic stimulants