In this brief blog, we here at Broadgate Clinic London Wall are turning the spotlight on Raynaud’s phenomenon, often referred to as Raynaud’s syndrome or Raynaud’s disease; something that many people suffer from without even being aware that there is a name for the condition.
Do you regularly suffer from your extremities tingling and feeling cold – particularly your hands and feet? Is it something that happens, not only when the weather is cold, but at other times too – say in times of emotion, or when you are under stress, or your hormones are playing-up? If you do, and this coldness is accompanied by the affected areas of skin turning blue, red or white, you may have Raynaud’s disease.
What is Raynaud’s disease?
Most people are not aware of Raynaud’s disease. They simply put down the sensation of having cold extremities to poor circulation, and think no more about it, even though it may be painful. If this sounds like you, you may well be suffering from Raynaud’s phenomenon and you are not alone. It is estimated that there are over 10 million sufferers here in the UK alone.
Raynaud’s phenomenon is caused by the small blood vessels in the extremities being over-sensitive to fluctuations in temperature. With some people there is little or no pain, but the condition can worsen and attacks can become severely painful. This condition usually affects the fingers and toes of victims, but other extremities including the ears, nipples and nose can also be affected.
Who gets Raynaud’s disease?
Raynaud’s can affect anyone, although it’s more common in females. Its exact cause is unknown and there is no cure. There are however various treatments that can help to manage the condition.
Raynaud’s often manifests itself in teenagers (particularly during puberty) but can disappear as victims age.
Diagnosing Raynaud’s disease
Raynaud’s can be diagnosed though a simple test whereby a doctor will ask you about your symptoms and will then immerse your hands in cool water or air.
There are two type of Raynaud’s – primary and secondary. Secondary usually occurs later in life (30 years of age or later) and is often caused by another underlying health problem or condition. It is usually more painful than primary and sometimes affects only one side of the body.
Doctors will sometimes check the small blood vessels (capillaries) in your fingers where the fingernail joins with the finger, as with secondary Raynaud’s they are larger, showing-up rather like red pen marks.
A blood test may also be carried out to confirm the diagnosis.
Treating Raynaud’s disease
As mentioned previously, there is no cure for Raynaud’s disease, even though it sometimes cures itself. The only licensed drug available here in the UK is something called Nifedipine, which is what is known as a channel blocker. Although not a cure, it can help to relieve the symptoms. If you are given this drug, you should avoid drinking grapefruit juice as this can cause certain side effects.
Some doctors and clinics are experimenting with Botox as a potential treatment for Raynaud’s, although there is little research to confirm its success.
In terms of managing the condition, you should always aim to keep a level temperature within your home and be prepared for cold weather by wearing gloves. There are also specialist products that are available for helping to manage the symptoms of Raynaud’s and you can find out more about these from the Raynauds.org.uk website.
Diagnosing and treating Raynaud’s disease at Broadgate Clinic London Wall
You live and/or work in London and you suspect that you may have Raynaud’s disease, you can visit the private, walk-in clinic here at Broadgate Clinic London Wall, for diagnosis and treatment. No prior appointment is necessary.