Raynaud’s phenomenon is a disorder that affects the blood vessels primarily in the fingers and toes. This disorder is characterized by episodic attacks, called vasospastic attacks, that cause the blood vessels in the digits to constrict (tighten or close). Raynaud’s phenomenon can occur on its own, or it can occur with another condition such as scleroderma or lupus.
Surveys show that Raynaud’s phenomenon might affect 5% – 10% percent of the general population in the U.S., and women are more likely than men to have the disorder. An attack of Raynaud’s is usually triggered by exposure to cold or emotional stress. Along with the fingers and toes, the nose, lips, or earlobes can also be affected.
For people who have Raynaud’s, exposure to cold temperatures causes blood vessels to contract, sometimes causing the arteries of the fingers and toes to collapse. The result is a greatly decreased supply of blood to the affected body areas, causing skin discoloration. After an attack is over, throbbing and tingling might occur in the fingers and toes. Attacks of Raynaud’s phenomenon can last from less than a minute to several hours.
Hand and arm surgeons at the Face & Body Center can help treat patients with Raynaud’s by explaining the preventive measures they can take at home and prescribing medicines that will control the vasospastic attacks. For more severe cases, we can treat symptoms with Botox, which has been shown to be effective in many cases. Other surgical options are available, which your doctor will discuss with you during treatment.