Diagnosing and Managing Raynaud's Disease " Shelley is a 21-year-old woman "

Case study ( 6452 views as of December 2, 2023 )

Shelley is a 21-year-old woman who has started noticing colour changes in her hands. She notes that her hands become white, then purple when exposed to the cold. When she warms them up, they go bright red and tingly. Her symptoms were much worse over the winter months, and were better during the summer. She is otherwise active and healthy. Unfortunately, she did start smoking recently.

Shelley is wondering what these colour changes mean, if this condition is serious and if any other tests need to be performed. In addition, she would like to know how to better control or prevent these flares.

Shelley would benefit from seeing her family physician who will review her symptoms and assess her for possible Raynaud's disease, and can refer her to a rheumatologist if appropriate. Shelley can also consider consulting with a Naturopathic Doctor to see if she can get some relief from her symptoms. Physiotherapy and yoga can also be beneficial to Shelley's condition.


Conversation based on: Diagnosing and Managing Raynaud's Disease " Shelley is a 21-year-old woman "

Diagnosing and Managing Raynaud's Disease " Shelley is a 21-year-old woman "

  • Raynaud's phenomenon is a condition that affects the blood vessels, causing a change in color in the hands, and sometimes other parts of the body, upon exposure to cold temperatures or stress. The symptoms of Raynaud's include color changes in the hands, which typically turn white or purple in the cold and then become red upon rewarming. Some individuals may also experience numbness or tingling in their fingers. Raynaud's phenomenon occurs when blood vessels constrict more than usual in response to cold or stress. While primary Raynaud's is not associated with any underlying disease and is quite common, a small percentage of cases can be secondary to other conditions. It is important to mention any symptoms in other areas of the body, such as the feet, nose, or ears, to your family doctor. Diagnosing Raynaud's is primarily based on the symptoms and medical history, as there is no specific test for the condition. Treatment for Raynaud's mainly focuses on prevention. It is essential to keep the hands and core body temperature warm and avoid triggers such as cold, stress, and vibration. It is also important to inform your doctor or pharmacist about Raynaud's before starting any new medications, as some medications can exacerbate symptoms. Smoking can worsen Raynaud's, so quitting smoking is beneficial for managing the condition. In severe cases of Raynaud's, doctors may prescribe medications that lower blood pressure to help relax the blood vessels. However, these medications are typically reserved for individuals with severe symptoms. If you have Raynaud's or if you notice your symptoms worsening, it is recommended to speak with your family physician for further evaluation and guidance.
  • Raynaud's phenomenon is a condition characterized by abnormal blood vessel response to cold exposure, leading to changes in the color of the affected areas, typically the hands. When individuals with Raynaud's are exposed to cold, their hands may turn white or purple, and upon rewarming, they often become bright red. Normally, blood vessels constrict in response to cold temperatures, but in Raynaud's phenomenon, this constriction occurs to a greater degree, causing symptoms such as color changes and sometimes numbness or tingling in the fingers. Raynaud's can also affect other body parts like the feet, nose, or ears. If you experience symptoms in these areas, it's important to inform your family doctor. Raynaud's phenomenon is relatively common, affecting around 5% of healthy individuals, and it is more prevalent in women. In most cases, Raynaud's is classified as primary, meaning it occurs without an underlying disease. However, a small portion of people may have secondary Raynaud's, which is associated with other conditions. In such cases, your family doctor may perform basic blood work to investigate further. Diagnosing Raynaud's does not require a specific test, and treatment primarily focuses on prevention. Keeping your hands and core body temperature warm is essential. It's important to avoid triggers such as stress, cold temperatures, and vibrations that can provoke Raynaud's episodes. Certain medications can exacerbate Raynaud's symptoms, so it's crucial to inform your family doctor or pharmacist about your condition before starting new medications. Smoking is known to damage blood vessels and can worsen Raynaud's symptoms. Quitting smoking is another intervention that can help improve the condition. In severe cases of Raynaud's, doctors may prescribe medications that lower blood pressure to relax the blood vessels. However, these medications are typically reserved for patients with severe symptoms. If you have Raynaud's or notice that your symptoms are worsening, it's recommended to speak with your family physician for further evaluation and guidance.
  • Any disease of the endocrine system. Diabetes is an endocrine disease because if affects the pancreas, a gland that produces the hormone insulin.
    • Ankylosing spondylitis symptoms include pain and stiffness in the joints in the lower back, spine, hips, knees, shoulders, ligaments and tendons.
  • I've read that fish oil supplementation might help delay the onset of spasms because of the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on blood viscosity and flow. In addition, higher alcohol and carbohydrate intake can be related to atherosclerotic disease, which could lead to poor circulation to extremities like the hands. Even though she is healthy, Shelley could benefit from seeing a dietitian to make sure her diet is not contributing to her condition.
    • It appears the research is still in the early stages of supporting omega-3's and their effect on raynaud's, but it is definitely worth Shelley consulting with a registered dietitian or naturopath to see about supplements that could be beneficial in managing her symptoms.
    • That's very interesting @AllieS. More and more it seems like omega-3's are something people should be taking on a regular basis
  • Is Raynaud's considered a circulatory disease ?
    • It seems as though the reason for spasm is a bit uncertain, but it might have something to do with nervous system reflexes that cause the arterioles to constrict and limit blood circulation.
    • Why would the arterioles go in to spasm ? Just the cold ?
    • My Rheumatologist told me Raynaud's disease occurs when the small arteries (arterioles) that serve the fingers, toes, ears, or nose go into spasm and cause significant pain. When arterioles go into spasm, they can cut off blood circulation and cause your fingers and toes to be very sore and the tips of your ears or nose to turn white or blue and lose feeling and almost have a pain like frost bite.
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon is a blood vessel condition where people’s hands change colour upon exposure to cold.
    • What conditions, besides Raynaud's, can cause color change and pain in the hands and fingers ?
  • Can Raynaud's be prevented? Alternatively, can certain activities contribute to causing Raynaud's?
  • Excellent question. I also experienced nipple vasospasm while pregnant and breastfeeding. My doctor indicated it may be Raynaud's. I experience the triphasic colour changes. I'm also interested if this increases my chances of developing a more severe issue
    • That's a good question. If you have Raynaud's of the nipple can it develop in the finger ?
  • Raynaud's is also something that can be associated with breastfeeding. The symptoms showing up on the breast while baby is nursing. That is the only time I have experienced it, and it was very mild. Does that indicate a higher chance of developing a more severed issue with Raynaud's later?
  • I think quitting smoking would be a good first step in increasing circulation and preventing the frequency of flare ups.
    • People think of smoking in conjunction with various cancers. They often miss the effects it can have on other medical conditions that affect your circulatory system.
  • Now, blood vessels naturally constrict when they are exposed to cold, but Raynaud’s phenomenon, it happens to a greater degree and this causes symptoms and those symptoms are the colour changes that I mentioned and sometimes patients report having numbness or tingling in their fingers as well.
    • What are the other symptoms ? Would there be swelling of the finger ?
  • In Raynaud's disease, smaller arteries that supply blood to your skin narrow, limiting blood circulation to affected areas.
    • Is there a way to overcome Raynaud's disease by increasing circulation ? Or, is this a permanent diagnosis once found ?
  • Treatment of Raynaud's disease depends on its severity and whether you have other health conditions
    • What is a typical treatment for managing Raynaud's Disease ?
  • Women are more likely than men to have Raynaud's disease, also known as Raynaud or Raynaud's phenomenon or syndrome. It appears to be more common in people who live in colder climates.
    • Why are women more susceptible to Raynaud's disease ?
  • There are treatment options for Raynaud's. A rheumatologist could provide some treatment suggestions.
    • Is Raynaud's a form of arthritis ?
  • A very informative video on Raynaud's. I didn't realize that I do have Raynaud's. I now know to keep an eye on my condition just in case it gets worse.
    • Very interesting video. I also wonder if this is something that can come and go over time. I've known individuals to experience Raynaud's but go years without visible symptoms.
  • It seems women are much more likely to suffer from Raynaud's disease than men and it is more common in cold climates. I think if the woman mentioned above has concerns that this could develop into something serious then she should absolutely see her doctor.
    • Also I wonder why women get Raynaud's more than men do ?
    • I wonder if that is due to the frequent exposure to low temperatures
  • Colour changes in the hands could be circulation related. She should see a doctor for a full evaluation
  • Last winter, my middle finger on my right hand started going white, numb and tingling. I actually watched the colour drain from my finger. I started researching it and believe it's Raynaud's Disease. I found that once I had an episode, it would happen again a few times more over the next few weeks, and be fine. It even happened during the summer, when I was holding a very cold glass of water. I have not yet been to my doctor, because I don't know if there is anything that can be done.
    • @ Karen Dancy if it's something that's been ongoing for a year or more you should really consult a physician
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