Raynaud’s Disease; ever heard of it? It may not be one of the most popular hand conditions but it is certainly an uncomfortable one! In this blog we will be outlining Raynaud’s Syndrome, its symptoms and the potential treatment options available. We will share expert advice and insight from one of our hand and wrist specialists, Dr. John Gorksi.
What is Raynaud’s?
Raynaud’s Disease is characterized by the loss of blood flow to the fingers and toes. When the sufferer is introduced to temperature changes or stressful episodes, the blood vessels in the hands/feet constrict, causing the skin in the fingers and toes to discolor and become cold or numb. While this condition isn’t as well-known as Carpal Tunnel, Trigger Finger or Tennis Elbow, it certainly affects it’s share of patients. An estimated 5-10% of the population between the ages of 15 and 40 have this little known disease, of which women are more likely affected. Raynaud’s can either be a primary diagnosis (true for the majority of sufferers), or secondary to another condition (typically an autoimmune disorder). Because Secondary Raynaud’s is connected with another disorder, the symptoms tend to be more severe.
If your specialist suspects that you have Raynaud’s disease, a physical examination will be performed along with a deep dive in to your medical history. There are few tests and rule-outs your physician will perform also to pinpoint if you have Raynaud’s Syndrome as a primary diagnosis, if you have something else, or if you have it as a secondary diagnosis to another disorder. Often times, specialists will take a closer look at the blood vessels of the fingers with or without exposing the hands to cold temperatures.
Unfortunately, there is no known direct cause for Raynaud’s Syndrome.
What are the symptoms like?
MSS hand specialist, Dr. John Gorksi, explains what Raynaud’s Disease feels like for a typical patient, stating:
“Patients commonly have persistent pain in cold temperatures at first, and in more severe cases can develop skin changes and open wounds from the compromised blood flow”
In most cases, skin discolorations also occur; fingers become white or blue in cold conditions, or red and inflamed during an emotional trigger. Sensations in the fingers can become numb, tingly and/or painful and as mentioned by Dr. Gorski, sores can occur on the fingers (which can be severe and lead to infections if left untreated).
Sady, there is currently no cure for Raynaud’s Disease. The best course of treatment is to manage symptoms through medication and lifestyle changes.
Keeping your hands warm and avoiding prolonged exposure to cold temperatures will help keep the blood flow in the fingers more regulated. Michigan winters are unavoidable, especially for those who enjoy winter sports. Be sure to wear insulated gloves and use hand warmers when outside during the winter months. Keep hands dry and develop a moisturizing routine to prevent hands from drying out. Patients with Raynaud’s Disease should also avoid smoking as it restricts blood flow to veins and arteries.
As for medication, a great first step is to have your hand specialist prescribe oral medication that can dilate the arteries to improve blood flow. If this step is unsuccessful or unsuited due to another medical condition, the use of Botox may be right for you. Botox injections in the hand help to prevent your blood vessels from shrinking, allowing for optimal blood flow. Dr. Gorski has used Botox as a treatment method on patients in our offices. He states:
“Botox injections are a new and emerging treatment for sufferers of Raynaud’s Disease of the hand. This treatment is non-invasive and shows great promise to restore compromised blood flow to the hand.”