Raynaud’s syndrome is a chronic blood circulation disease affecting the hands, feet, toes and fingers. It occurs due to lack of blood supply to extremities.
It may be triggered by artery blockage, weather changes or toxin build up in the blood.
It has two further types, namely Primary Raynaud’s and Secondary Raynauds.
Primary Raynaud's is a condition that gets triggered by a change in primary factors like weather changes, accidents etc.
Secondary raynauds, otherwise known as raynaud’s phenomenon is a serious condition that causes discoloration, pain and stiffness of affected areas.
Raynaud’s syndrome affects thousands of people every year, with women in majority.
Raynaud’s may not seem to have any immediate effects, but it can lead to skin issues, joint pain and loss of physical health.
Signs and symptoms of Raynaud’s Phenomenon
The symptoms of raynaud’s occur one after the other, depending on how severe the attack is.
Discoloration of the hands and feet: Fingers turning white, to blue, to purple and back to red as the blood supply resumes. This, however, is a temporary reaction.
Numbness or pain: The cold fingers and toes tend to get numb and have a tingling/pricking sensation. It might cause throbbing pain in a few cases with restricted body movements.
Swelling: If the attack persists for more than 5 minutes, it can lead to blood vessels getting swelled up.
Rash or wounds: If the attacks are common, it may increase the death of cells, leading to non healing ulcers and wounds. These may lead to infection if not treated in time.
There are other symptoms also including loss of sensation of touch, pallor, numbing of ears, nose, nipples or lips etc.
Possible Causes of Raynaud’s Phenomenon
The exact cause of Raynaud's phenomenon is still unknown, however it is seen that it occurs due to vasospasms.
Vasospasm refers to thickening and constriction of artery walls due to physical trauma, toxin build up in blood or extreme heat.
Few other causes of Raynaud’s include:
Physical trauma: Activities with repetitive actions like playing an instrument, typing or using chainsaws can trigger Raynaud’s. Surgeries, fracture of wrists or frostbites are equally responsible too.
Smoking: Causes blood circulation to be restricted by stiffening up of blood vessels.
Arterial damage: Unhealthy eating or lifestyle habits can lead to toxins getting accumulated in the blood. This leads to blood circulation problems.
Joint disorders: Autoimmune diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and sjogren’s syndrome can be inflammatory and lead to raynaud’s.
Carpal tunnel syndrome: Refers to a condition in which a major nerve in the limbs can restrict arterial functions, leading to secondary raynaud’s syndrome feet and hands.
Risk factors for Raynaud’s Phenomenon
Genes: Chances of having raynaud's increases if there is a parent or grandparent suffering from it.
Weather: Extreme cold conditions can turn fingertips white.
Age and sex: Raynauds usually occurs between ages 15-30, majorly affecting women.
Poor lifestyle: Consumption of alcohol/nicotine can lead to artery walls getting weakened. Operation of high vibrating tools or leading a sedentary lifestyle may increase the risk as well.
Chronic disorders: Skin, joint or blood related disorders like lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren's syndrome etc. are capable of leading to secondary raynaud’s.
Long Term Effects of Raynaud’ On Human Body
Raynaud’s syndrome takes a long time to recover.
This happens due to the constant irregularities in blood supply in the body, leading to tissue repair and regeneration getting hampered in Raynaud’s feet and hands.
This may lead to oozing ulcers, rashes or wounds known as chilblains.
These outgrowths can get infected pretty quick on contact with sunlight, water or dirt.
It ultimately gets difficult for the wound to heal when infections like these reoccur.
In these cases, surgical removal of the affected area is the only option left.
Treatment Options Available for Raynaud’s
There is no permanent cure for Raynaud’s.
However, raynaud’s treatment options like medications, biofeedback and ointments can help to reduce the intensity of symptoms.
Vasodilators: Medications to increase the strength of blood vessels and ease supply of blood to all parts of the body. Commonly used types include Losartan (Cozar), Sildnenafil ( Revatio) and Fluxoxetine (Prozac).
Chemical injection: A potent chemical is injected into the affected area to reduce pain, stiffness and swelling. Must be repeated till complete relief.
Calcium channel blockers: Medications like Amlodipine (Norvasc), Nifedipine (Procardia) and Diltiazem (Cardizem, Dilacor) contribute in reducing frequency, intensity and duration of raynaud’s attack by dilating the arteries.
Nerve surgery: Commonly known as sympathectomy, where affected nerves are cut off, through small incisions around hands and feet.
Nitroglycerine ointment: It is applied on affected fingertips and toes to heal the infection. It mainly relaxes the artery spasms to regulate blood flow.
Ayurvedic remedies: The safest way to treat Raynaud’s, involving antioxidant rich herbs to regulate brain and heart functions. Also helps to regulate body temperature and improve muscle and skin quality.
Tips and tricks to Manage Raynaud’s At Home
Raynaud’s syndrome treatment at home begins with prevention as the first step.
Minimizing contact with stress, cold heavy duty tools chemicals is the key.
Regular exercise: Physical activity for at least 30 minutes per day can lead to reduction in raynaud’s symptoms by increasing blood flow throughout the body.
Practicing mindfulness: Mental health is as important as physical health. Relaxation and breathing techniques like yoga and pranayama should be practiced so as to ease the blood flow throughout the body.
Avoid touching cold items: They trigger raynaud’s so it's best avoided to touch them directly. Refrigerated cans or beverages etc. should be touched using gloves or towels.
Staying covered: Raynaud’s affects the open areas exposed to cold, therefore its best to stay covered as much as possible, especially in cold weather or when venturing outside.
Shun stimulants: Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol should be replaced by healthier alternatives like green tea, smoothies etc.
Tips to Follow During A Raynaud’s Attack
Raynaud’s is caused by a restriction in the blood flow, therefore, it's best to engage in physical activities to ease the same.
Changing places might help. If the weather is cold outside, consider moving to warm insides.
If induced by stress, taking an off from stressful conditions to a relaxed atmosphere for sometime should be useful.
Oil massage helps to increase the blood flow throughout the body. Pressing harder on the affected muscles tends to ease the blood flow.
A movement in hand and legs, or a simple wiggling helps. Simple exercises like jogging at one place or moving hands in a circular motion works too.
Dipping hands and feet in a warm water bucket regulates body temperature, even placing them under running warm water will be useful.
Ayurvedic herbs for Raynaud’s Management
Understanding what triggers raynauds and taking preventive steps for curbing phenomenon symptoms is said to help.
The Ayurvedic herbs need to be chosen accordingly to the trigger that is affecting you like stress, joint problems or poor blood chemistry.
Manjistha: It has a natural heating effect on the body. It heals skin tissues. Improves liver, kidney and boosts the immune system
Ashwagandha: raynaud's syndrome causes weakening of muscles which can be reversed with this herb. It improves bone density and strengthens the tissues
Brahmi: It has a soothing effect on the brain. Helps cure stress and anxiety. Balances hormonal imbalances and manages pain reactions.
Punarnava: Essential to redeposit nutrients in the blood. Helps in raynaud's phenomenon treatment by eliminating toxins. Improves blood circulation and repairs tissues.
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