If your fingertips, toes or any other extremity become painful when exposed to cold temperatures, you might be suffering from Raynaud’s phenomenon.
If holding an iced drink – or putting your hands in the freezer – causes your fingers to turn blue (or white), you could be one of an estimated 15 to 30 million people in the U.S. who have Raynaud’s phenomenon.
If air conditioning often triggers your fingers or toes to hurt, you might be experiencing a Raynaud’s spasm.
The Raynaud’s Association is here to help. We’re a 501c3 non-profit organization providing support and education to the many sufferers of Raynaud’s Phenomenon – an exaggerated sensitivity to cold temperatures.
Raynaud’s (ray-NODES) is named for the French physician Maurice Raynaud, who first recognized the condition in 1862. The disease causes an interruption of blood flow to the fingers, toes, nose, and/or ears when a spasm occurs in the blood vessels of these areas. Spasms are caused by exposure to cold or emotional stress. Typically, the affected area turns white, then blue, then bright red over the course of the attack. There may be associated tingling, swelling, or painful throbbing. The attacks may last from minutes to hours. In severe cases, the area may develop ulcerations and infections, which can lead to gangrene.
Raynaud’s can occur as a “primary” disease; that is, with no associated disorder. It can also occur as a “secondary” condition related to other diseases, such as scleroderma, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Approximately 5-10 percent of all Americans suffer from Raynaud’s, but only one out of ten sufferers seeks treatment. Both men and women suffer from Raynaud’s, but women are nine times more likely to be affected. Some researchers estimate as many as 20% of all women in their childbearing years have Raynaud’s.
Although it’s been over 100 years since Raynaud’s was recognized, little is still known about the condition, its cause, or its cure. The Raynaud’s Association seeks to raise awareness and understanding of this perplexing phenomenon.