What is Raynaud's Disease

Dr. Jason Kur, MD, FRCPC, ABIM, discusses diagnosis and treatment of Raynaud's disease.

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Dr. Jason Kur, MD, FRCPC, ABIM, discusses diagnosis and treatment of Raynaud's disease.
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Dr. Jason Kur, MD, FRCPC, ABIM

Duration: 2 minutes, 25 seconds

Raynaud’s phenomenon is a blood vessel condition where people’s hands change colour upon exposure to cold.  

What will happen is, if someone with Raynaud’s exposes their hands into a cold environment, their hands will turn colour. First, they will usually go white or purple and then upon re-warming they turn bright red.

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.

Raynaud’s can affect other parts of the body as well. Sometimes they can involve the feet, the nose, or the ears. If you have symptoms in some of these other areas, it is important you mention them to your family doctor.

Now Raynaud’s is very common in the population of to five percent of healthy people have Raynaud’s and it is more common in women. However, Raynaud’s can be associated with other conditions.  

Most Raynaud’s we classify as primary Raynaud’s, meaning it is not associated with any disease. However, a small portion of people will have Raynaud’s that is a manifestation of other conditions and in those situations; your family doctor may do some basic blood work.

There is no specific test for Raynaud’s and treatment is largely around prevention. The things you want to do if you have Raynaud’s, is obviously to keep your hands warm, but more than that, you want to make sure you keep your core body temperature warm as well.

There are a number of triggers for Raynaud’s such as stress, cold, vibration and you will want to avoid situations that bring out the Raynaud’s phenomenon.  

There are also a number of medications that can make Raynaud’s worse so it’s important you mention Raynaud’s to your family doctor or your pharmacist before starting any new medication.

And finally, smoking is something that affects blood vessels as well and causes damage to blood vessels and if you smoke, it typically makes Raynaud’s worse.  So, this is another intervention you can do to help improve your Raynaud’s.

In some cases, doctors will use medications that lower blood pressure to help relax the blood vessels if you have severe Raynaud’s. We typically reserve those medications for patients that have very severe symptoms.

If you have Raynaud’s, or you think your Raynaud’s is getting worse, please speak with your family physician.  

Presenter: Dr. Jason Kur, Rheumatologist, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Rheumatologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.