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Pain in the cold: Raynaud’s Syndrome

Cold, wet or psychological stress – these are not good conditions for people who suffer from Raynaud’s syndrome. Typical of the disease: Within a short time become discolored fingers; there is severe pain and numbness. Women are much more likely affected than men.

Raynaud's SyndromeWhen Raynaud’s syndrome is a circulatory disorder, which was named after the French physician Maurice Raynaud (1834-1881). It is also among the popular terms “body finger”, “white finger” or “syndrome of cold finger” known. Between 4 and 17 percent of the US population suffering from the disease, women are about five times more often affected than men. We distinguish primary from secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon: In the former, seizures occur outside any existing ground fault on both sides and are usually triggered by cold or stress. In contrast, in the second, rarer variant: Here, the symptoms usually show one side as a side effect or consequence of a base disease. This concerns in the following:

  • Scleroderma
  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Poisonings
  • Side effects of drugs
  • Excessive work with your fingers or with vibrating tools

Symptoms and possible resulting damage.

A characteristic feature of the syndrome is an acute, paroxysmal occurring hypoperfusion of the vessels. This narrowing (vasospasm), which means that the fingers and / or toes – discolored and painful white – in lactating women possibly the nipples. The ear lobe or the nose can be affected. Then, the corresponding points are blue, cold and rigid. Because of the later re-entrant increased blood flow to the extremities tingle and then red. Blue, white, red are the colors of the French flag, so the sequence is known as the “Tricolore” phenomenon. Raynaud’s syndrome is usually harmless, but can cause severe forms and a long duration of disease irreparable damage to the blood vessels. In the worst case, leads to the formation of ulcers or a tissue death (necrosis) due to the constant lack of blood supply.

Prevention and treatment.

To exclude the possibility that symptoms are the first signs of another disease should be done a medical examination. In primary form of therapy is usually not necessary; However, there are some measures to prevent:

  • Keep warm the affected limbs
  • Manage stress – by autogenous training, yoga or similar
  • Promote blood circulation – for example, sports or regular visits to the sauna
  • Smoking, which constricts the vessels set
  • Avoid work on vibrating tools (for example, jackhammers, saws)

In secondary Raynaud’s syndrome, the treatment of the underlying disease is paramount. Circulation-promoting drugs can relieve the symptoms: These act either on the central nervous system, or be applied to the affected areas. Also, infusion therapy comes into question. In particularly pronounced symptoms in the fingers can be displayed a division of the sympathetic nerves. This surgical procedure provides for months to years of symptoms.