Raynaud’s disease (Ray-nodes) means that the small blood vessels in the extremities such as the hands, feet, fingers or toes are over-sensitive to even the slightest changes in temperature, cold conditions and sometimes emotional stress.
When our bodies are exposed to the cold, a normal response is for the blood vessels to become narrower. When someone has Raynaud’s this reaction may be much more extreme. It will sometimes cause a noticeable colour change to the affected areas, with the skin turning white, then blue and finally to red as the circulation returns. This is known as a Raynaud’s attack.
A Raynaud’s attack can be very uncomfortable, and sometimes quite painful. It can also make everyday tasks, like buttoning a jacket or unzipping a purse, very difficult. Raynaud’s symptoms generally affect the fingers and toes, but all extremities can be involved, including the hands, feet, ears, nose, lips, tongue and nipples. Raynaud’s is a common condition thought to affect up to ten million people in the UK.
There are two different types of Raynaud’s: primary and secondary. Primary Raynaud’s is usually less serious as the condition tends to be fairly manageable. People living with secondary Raynaud’s will often experience more severe symptoms.
People with primary Raynaud’s usually have no other related complications, and will rarely go on to develop an additional problem.
If you have primary Raynaud’s, it is important to see your GP if you are worried about the symptoms or any other health issues.
Secondary Raynaud’s needs more investigation and more careful monitoring for complications like ulceration or sores.
If you notice a change in your symptoms or you have any other health concerns, it is important to tell your doctor, who may carry out some tests to rule out other conditions.
To find out much more about the condition and how to get help head over to Scleroderma & Raynaud’s UK (SRUK). It is the only UK Charity dedicated to improving the lives of people with scleroderma and Raynaud’s phenomenon. Their aim is to reach out to every single person who has a Scleroderma or Raynaud’s diagnosis and provide them with the information and support they need.