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What is Raynaud’s disease?

Raynaud’s disease (RD) is a condition characterized by contraction of the blood vessels and restricted blood flow to the hands and feet, among other areas. There are two primary forms of RD: primary RD, which exists alone, and secondary RD, which occurs secondary to another condition like lupus.

What is lupus-related Raynaud’s disease?

In many cases, RD occurs secondary to another disease like Sjogren syndrome, scleroderma, polymyositis, or lupus. Somebody who has secondary Raynaud’s Disease is simply suffering from a primary condition in addition to RD. As many as 30% of people who suffer from lupus are also diagnosed with Raynaud’s Disease.

What are the signs and symptoms of RD?

Patients with RD experience restricted blood flow to the fingers, toes, nose, lips, ears, knees, and/or chin, leading to a change in color sometimes accompanied by pain, numbness, or a pins-and-needles sensation. In most cases, these symptoms appear after exposure to stress or cold temperatures.

How is Raynaud’s disease treated?

While vasodilators can be prescribed to prevent restriction of the blood vessels, the most effective way to manage symptoms of RD is through prevention. There are several steps you can take to prevent constriction and associated symptoms, including:

  • make sure you keep your home or office warm enough to prevent getting cold
  • do a hand or foot soak in warm water if you feel an attack of RD coming on
  • always wear a coat, hat, and mittens when going outside during winter/cold weather months
  • avoid smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke
  • monitor for, recognize, and manage stress proactively
  • avoid strong vibrations like power tools, which can trigger an attack
  • wear a glove when removing items from the freezer

Summarized, preventing attacks involves preventing exposure to stress, emotional upset, and cold temperatures. Many people with RD are able to successfully manage their symptoms without medication.

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