During the cold winter months, more Middlesex and Greater Hartford County patients are asking us at Connecticut Foot Care Centers about Raynaud’s. Below are some answers to help you better understand this condition that can affect your toes and fingers.
Q: Are Raynaud’s Disease and Raynaud’s Phenomenon the same thing?
A: Raynaud’s is a condition where the blood vessels in the feet and hands overreact to the cold, resulting in spasms in the small vessels which cause skin on the extremities to turn red or whitish-blue. It can also cause a prickly or stinging feeling in your toes and fingers as well as numbness. When this disorder occurs on its own, it’s known as Raynaud’s Disease (or Primary Raynaud’s). When it is caused by another condition, it’s called Raynaud’s Phenomenon (or Secondary Raynaud’s).
Q: What causes Raynaud’s?
A: Researchers are not completely sure. In the case of Secondary Raynaud’s, it can occur due to an autoimmune, connective tissue or arterial disease. It can also happen to patients who smoke, take certain medications or have suffered an overuse injury. In some patients, Raynaud’s is triggered by stress.
Q: What should I do if I experience symptoms of Raynaud’s?
A: You should get inside or to a warmer location. Then you can try to slowly warm your toes by wiggling and massaging them or running warm (not hot water) over them. If this is your first attack of Raynaud’s, make an appointment at one of our six Hartford and Middlesex County offices. Our podiatrists, Jeffrey S. Kahn, D.P.M., Craig M. Kaufman, D.P.M., Ayman M. Latif, D.P.M. and Raffaella R. Pascarella, D.P.M. will examine your feet and get a complete medical history. They will determine if you have Primary or Secondary Raynaud’s and what steps should be taken to minimize the number and severity of the attacks.
Q: What kinds of treatments are available for Raynaud’s?
A: If Raynaud’s exists on its own, the podiatrist may recommend lifestyle changes such as not smoking, increasing the amount of exercise you get and other things that improve circulation. There are also medications, surgery and alternative medicine treatment options available. If Raynaud’s exists in conjunction with another disease, treatment for that condition will need to be determined.
Q: How can I prevent Raynaud’s attacks?
A: Wear multiple pairs of socks to help keep feet warm. Don’t spend prolonged periods of time outdoors when the temperatures are really low. Warm up your car before getting into it on frosty days. Learn how to reduce stress in a healthy way.
If you have additional questions about Raynaud’s or another podiatric problem, don’t hesitate to contact us.