Treatment Options for Severe Raynaud’s

The Cleveland Clinic published an article titled “What to Do When Medication Doesn’t Work for Your Severe Raynaud’s.” It lists a number of treatment options for severe Raynaud’s sufferers who need more than the traditional medications most frequently prescribed to alleviate Raynaud’s symptoms.

For most people living with Raynaud’s, they have the primary form which can often be addressed with lifestyle issues. But for those with more severe symptoms, particularly those with the secondary form, they are more at risk for developing painful ulcers and potentially experiencing permanent damage to skin tissue and blood vessels.

In severe cases, doctors usually start with drugs in the category of calcium channel blockers or topical creams and gels containing nitroglycerin or nifedipine (a calcium channel blocker). If more ammunition is required, they may prescribe drugs in the phosphodiesterase inhibitors category – these are better known as Viagra and Cialis used more commonly by men for other purposes, but they are proving effective for severe Raynaud’s symptoms (getting insurance coverage for female Frosties is a separate issue…).

When the above drugs aren’t enough, what are the treatment options for severe Raynaud’s sufferers? The article lists the following:

  • Sympathetic Nerve Block Injections
  • Botox® Injections (still experimental and not clinically proven)
  • Surgical Sympathectomies
  • Spinal Cord Stimulation (a new one we haven’t heard before)

Some of the above options are painful and not permanent, but for those in danger of losing a digit, they warrant serious consideration.

One option not mentioned in the article is Iloprost injections. The injections are delivered over a series of days under hospital supervision, and have proven effective in opening the blood vessels to save digits from extreme Raynaud’s symptoms potentially leading to gangrene.

The above treatment options for severe Raynaud’s won’t be needed for most sufferers, but it’s good to know there are alternatives for those who require more than the standard medications.

Here’s a link to the full article in the Cleveland Clinic’s Health Essentials publication: What to Do When Medication Doesn’t Work for Your Severe Raynaud’s