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Raynaud Phenomenon

Decreased Blood Flow to Fingers

Image of Two Hands Being Rubbed due to PainRaynaud phenomenon is a problem that causes decreased blood flow to the fingers. In some cases, it also causes less blood flow to the ears, toes, nipples, knees, or nose. This happens due to spasms of blood vessels in those areas. The spasms happen in response to cold, stress, or emotional upset.

The exact cause of Raynaud syndrome is unknown. It is possible that some blood disorders may cause Raynaud syndrome by increasing the blood thickness. This may happen due to excess platelets or red blood cells. Or special receptors in the blood that control the narrowing of the blood vessels may be more sensitive.

Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each person. Common symptoms include:

  • Fingers that turn pale or white then blue when exposed to cold, or during stress or emotional upset, then red when the hands are warmed
  • Hands that may become swollen and painful when warmed
  • Sores on the finger pads develop, in severe cases
  • Gangrene in the fingers that causes infection or needs amputation, this is rare

For most people living with Raynaud syndrome, it is more of an inconvenience than a serious problem. There is no cure for this disease, but it can be managed with proper treatment. Treatment may include:

  • Avoiding exposure to cold
  • Keeping warm with gloves, socks, scarf, and a hat
  • Stopping smoking
  • Wearing finger guards over fingers with sores
  • Avoiding trauma or vibrations to the hand (such as with vibrating tools)
  • Taking blood pressure medicines during the winter months to help reduce constriction of the blood vessels