Treatment Options for Raynaud'sWe receive frequent inquiries about the treatment options for Raynaud’s.  Since many doctors are either unfamiliar with the options available, or give Frosties the cold shoulder saying “wear gloves” or “move south,” we thought it would be valuable to create a dedicated post on the subject.

To date, there is no medication that eliminates Raynaud’s attacks, but there are some drugs that can decrease their severity or frequency.  These include:

  • Calcium Channel Blockers – These drugs are clinically proven to help reduce the frequency and severity of Raynaud’s attacks.  They work to open the blood vessels so that the blood flows more freely.  There are many different types and brands in the calcium channel blocker category, so patients should keep trying until they find the one that works best with their body.
  • ED Drugs – More recently the erectile dysfunction drugs, such as Viagra and Cialis, are proving quite effective in helping patients with severe Raynaud’s symptoms.  They can be used alone or in conjunction with calcium channel blockers either regularly or “on demand” (when you anticipate or experience greater exposure to cold or stressful situations).  Keep in mind getting insurance coverage can be challenging for female Frosties…
  • Botox® Injections – Botox treatments are currently being explored for their application to Raynaud’s.  Studies to date are few and small in their samples, but the results are promising.  It works to block the nerves to prevent the vasospasms involved in Raynaud’s attacks from occurring.
  • Topical Treatments – There are topical treatments that can supplement the above options, or be used alone when a sufferer can’t tolerate or warrant oral drug treatments. Nitroglycerin creams and gels are proven to help keep the blood vessels open.  Nifedipine (the most commonly prescribed calcium channel blocker drug) also comes in a topical form that may be effective for some patients.  Topical meds are also good options for helping to heal digital ulcers.

For those with extremely severe cases (far from the norm) – meaning at risk of losing one or more digits – there are additional treatment options for Raynaud’s to explore:

  • Sympathectomies – In a digital sympathectomy procedure, a surgeon cuts the tiny nerves to the arteries of the fingers.  The procedure isn’t always effective, and the benefits generally will not last.  However, this “last ditch” approach may preserve the finger or toe from amputation.  Some patients report that the procedure reduced their pain, healed their ulcers and/or prevented new ulcers from forming.
  • Iloprost Treatments – For those with severe digital ulcers that won’t heal with the above options, patients may receive intravenous infusions of a drug called Iloprost over a period of several days in the hospital.  The drug works to cause smaller blood vessels to widen, allowing for improved blood flow to the extremities.

To explore any of the above options, we suggest consulting with a rheumatologist.  These are the specialists who are most knowledgeable about Raynaud’s, as they treat the more serious autoimmune diseases closely associated with the condition.

As for other non-prescription options:

  • Self-help relaxation techniques, such as biofeedback and tai chi, work for some people to minimize the severity of Raynaud’s attacks. These methods require a great deal of practice and commitment to achieve real results. They won’t be effective for everyone, particularly for more severe Secondary Raynaud’s sufferers.
  • A regular exercise regimen helps to increase blood supply to body tissues.

We’re often asked about natural and holistic remedies, but, while some sufferers claim success with supplements, none to date have been verified as effective for Raynaud’s.  Be sure to make your doctor aware if you are taking or plan to use any such products, as they may interact with other medications or have negative side effects.

If you’re interested in non-medical options that can make life warmer and more comfortable, please check out our Product Showcase where we review several items with the potential to bring warmth and comfort to those with Raynaud’s.  They include heated warmers, apparel, accessories and over-the-counter creams that can potentially benefit people with Raynaud’s.

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