We found a useful article by Anne Mawdsley, the Founder of the Raynaud’s and Scleroderma Association in the UK, that was published in the British Journal of Health Care Assistants. It’s titled: Raynaud’s Phenomenon: What Can Be Done for Patients?
As it’s written by someone who has experienced Raynaud’s first-hand (most articles published in journals are authored by medical professionals), it does a good job of describing our symptoms and lifestyle issues. Here’s a great quote: “Many people have described the pain during a Raynaud’s phenomenon attack as being similar to having frostbite or having trapped your fingers in a car door.” Not your usual frame of reference!
It also makes a good point of the fact that Raynaud’s attacks may be triggered by exposure to even a small change in temperature. We often associate the pain with absolute cold temperature thresholds, but stepping into a draft or moving from a colder air-conditioned building into a warmer temperature outdoors in summer months can just as easily cause a spasm for Raynaud’s patients.
Much as we respect the author and her views, we should point out a few references where we may have a different position, or see differences between the U.S. and the UK:
- Hereditary Raynaud’s: To our knowledge, researchers haven’t determined a specific genetic link for Raynaud’s, although in many families, more than one member has the condition. As a true genetic factor has not been clinically proven, it is uncertain as to whether or not family connections are based on increased awareness of the condition among relatives or true heredity.
- Primary Diseases to Which Raynaud’s Can Be Secondary: The article references only Scleroderma, and it’s true there is a strong overlap between patients who have scleroderma also suffering from Raynaud’s. There are several additional autoimmune conditions to which Raynaud’s may be secondary, including: rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and Sjogren’s disease. Keep in mind that the large majority of patients have the more benign primary form of Raynaud’s with no serious underlying condition to be treated.
- Drugs and Treatment Options – There’s a reference to nifedipine (brand name Procardia) being the only drug licensed for Raynaud’s phenomenon. This may be true in the UK. However, while nifedipine and amlodipine are the two calcium channel blockers that are most used clinically to help reduce the severity and frequency of Raynaud’s attacks, there are currently no FDA-approved drugs for Raynaud’s in the U.S. (a sad state of affairs for Raynaud’s patients!). Additional treatment options listed include certain vitamins and references to natural products. The body of knowledge on nutritional strategies to help Raynaud’s sufferers is limited. We advocate the need for better quality, more consistent study methodologies on nutritional supplements and dietary options that could help Raynaud’s patients better control their attacks. Please speak with your doctor before trying any of these dietary approaches.
We’re grateful to our friends across the pond for taking the time to summarize and publish this material and believe fellow Frosties will find it a heart-warming read. Here’s a link to the full article.