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Raynauds Phenomenon

Updated on December 2, 2016
Photos are my own unless otherwise credited. Article copyright Lorelei Cohen.
Photos are my own unless otherwise credited. Article copyright Lorelei Cohen.

What is Raynaud's Phenomenon?

Raynaud's syndrome may not be visible on an x-ray. It may not even be visible to your family or your friends or perhaps even to yourself yet you may suffer from it.

Raynaud's Phenomenon is known as one of the quieter illnesses out there but for those who suffer from a severe form of this syndrome can be devastating.

Risk of severe infection or the death of body tissue due to lack of blood flow can be the consequences of severe Raynaud's disease if it is left untreated.

Hands may turn white, blue, and then reddish with an attack.

Cold, stress, or other factors may initiate an attack of Raynaulds syndrome.
Cold, stress, or other factors may initiate an attack of Raynaulds syndrome. | Source
Illustration of human hand.
Illustration of human hand. | Source

What Exactly Is Raynaud's Phenomenon?

Raynaud's Phenomenon is a rare disorder where the blood vessels, generally in a persons hands and feet, narrow and restrict the blood flow to the involved areas. During an attack the extremities involved will appear white or blue in color. Although the length of time that these attacks can last will vary with each individual, the disease itself is usually mild.

In rare instances the illness can become dangerous. If the attacks last for extended periods of time then the tissue that is deprived of blood flow will begin to die. Care must be taken to avoid infection of the afflicted extremities.

It is usually exposure to cold or stress that causes an attack of Raynaud's Phenomenon to occur but other triggering agents such as coffee, cigarette smoking or exposure to other pollutants, or stimulants can also cause an occurrence of Raynaud's.

Underlying diseases such as scleroderma or Sjogren's syndrome will increase a persons likelihood of developing Raynauds.

Raynaud's is more predominant in women than men.


1. If you notice that your hands or feet turn white or blue when you are either cold or under stress.

2. If you experience pain or tingling in your fingers or toes.

3. If you frequently suffer from extremely cold hands or feet.

*Contact your doctor if you suspect that you may have Raynaud's disease.

There are ways to help alleviate your raynauds symptoms. These slippers heat in the microwave to bring your feet some toasty warmth when you need to quickly rel

Caffeine is a stimulate that can trigger a raynauld's syndrome attack.
Caffeine is a stimulate that can trigger a raynauld's syndrome attack.

Ways to reduce the symptoms of Raynauld's.

During Raynaud's phenomenon, syndrome, or disease active phases:

Elevate your feet as often as possible. Sit with your feet propped up whenever it is possible to do so.

Reduce or eliminate stimulants which might initiate a flare of Raynauld's symptoms.

Do not smoke. Eliminate caffeine.

Reduce your emotional stress.

Reduce the physical stress that your inflamed areas are forced to endure. This means reducing the amount of walking that you do. Reduce the activity which your hands participate in ie: baking, kneading dough, working on craft projects.

Keep gloves or slippers on to warm your hands or feet.

Place your hands under your arms or in a bowl of warm water to warm them quickly.

To avoid infection soak hands or feet in warm salt water three to five times throughout the day. *Do not rub inflamed tissue with the towel when drying.... pat dry to prevent injury.

Discuss changes in your symptoms with your doctor. He may prescribe medication to open the small capillaries in your extremities.

Discuss with your doctor whether or not your Raynaud's symptoms may be increasing due the current usage of other medications. ie: Steroid usage may trigger or increase the severity of Raynaud's phenomenom attacks.

Avoid the events that trigger your attacks!

Put on a cup of herbal tea, put your feet up, and relax.

What is Raynaud's Syndrome?

Reduce the severity of Your Raynaud's Syndrome:

Try to avoid the events that trigger your attacks.

Avoid contact with cold floors - wear loose fitting socks, slippers or shoes to reduce exposure to cold surfaces that may trigger an attack. Loose fitting clothing will help prevent restriction of the blood vessels.

Wear gloves when retrieving food from the refrigerator, when driving or in any other circumstances when cold might trigger an attack of Raynaud's on your hands.

Try to reduce your physical as well as emotional stress levels. If you are in a very active phase of the illness reduce the amount of stress on the area that is inflamed.

ie: Reduce the amount of walking that you do to help alleviate stress to the feet or reduce the amount of typing you do to give your hands time to recover.

Do not smoke.

Reduce or eliminate your caffeine intake.


Reduce the stress on your inflamed areas.

Reduce activity when you are in a flare but get moving again as soon as you are able to. Walking is a wonderful exercise that is good for heart and lung health. It is also an exercise which can be adjusted to any individuals activity or health level. So enjoy a walk today.

Soak your feet in a warm foot bath. Soothe away stress and cold with a toasty warm foot bath and massage. Use epsom salts in your bath and relax the natural way while you absorb nutrients through your skin.

People used to soak their feet after a long day but this very healthy ritual has been set to the side by television and computer use. It is time to relax with again with a soothing warm foot bath.

Improve circulation to the feet with a warm salt water bath.

Conair Foot / Pedicure Spa with Waterfall, Lights and Bubbles; Blue
Conair Foot / Pedicure Spa with Waterfall, Lights and Bubbles; Blue

A foot bath in warm Epsom salts is the perfect way to keep your feet warm and your body relaxed. Epsom salts also contain magnesium which is easily absorbed through the skin and may help to provide some relief for muscle aches and pain.


Wear gloves to keep your hands warm when outside or retrieving food from the freezer.

Hands may develop cuts, blisters, scaring, and dying tissue.

Raynauds syndrome occurs when circulation to the small capillaries occurs. Generally affects the extremities of the body such as hands and feet.
Raynauds syndrome occurs when circulation to the small capillaries occurs. Generally affects the extremities of the body such as hands and feet. | Source

What is the difference between Raynauld's phenomenon, syndrome and disease?

The term Raynaud's disease is generally used when the symptoms of this illness present themselves without other forms of arthritis, or other diseases, also being present. While the term Raynaud's syndrome, or phenomenon, is used to describe the symptoms of this illness that occur in conjunction with other illnesses.

Avoid Caffeine. Drink Instead Herbal, Green, or White Tea.

In many cases it can be an underlying health issue that increases your chances of having issues with raynaulds.
In many cases it can be an underlying health issue that increases your chances of having issues with raynaulds.

My battle with Raynaulds Phenomenon.

It's rough being diagnosed with a very rare illness but it is even rougher when you realize that the specialist treating you does not have any real experience or knowledge in treating your disease. That was my experience when I became severely ill with a very rare illness.

I was a twenty-six years old, and a divorced single mother studying at our local college went it hit me, I went down like a rock. My joints and muscles stiffened. I had difficulty swallowing and breathing. I was so fatigued that some days I had difficulty just sitting at the kitchen table for a few hours.

I was dopey, my brain fuzzy and confused, and I could not concentrate on even a simple conversation for any length of time. My hands and feet became very cold sensitive, and the blood flow to them would shut off at the slightest hint of cold, or physical or emotional stress.

Within a month the stiffness was so bad that I could no longer get into the bathtub, rise from a chair, or climb stairs without difficulty. The fatigue, and brain fog made studies impossible, and I was forced to withdraw from my studies.

A diagnosis was made of severe Rheumatoid arthritis, but of course this diagnosis did have a few flaws as it did not explain the swallowing, breathing, confusion and fatigue issues. Two years later it was discovered that I had JO-1 antibodies within my immune system.

JO-1 antibodies are extremely rare, even today there is not a lot of knowledge known about them, and back then there was even less. I was sent to a specialist at the nearest large medical facility to be treated.

After examining me the specialist informed me that I should not be having breathing, severe fatigue, or swallowing difficulties, and that he didn't have a clue what the dopiness was. I was also told that JO-1 antibodies indicated that I had Polymyositis, and that steroids, or immune suppressants were the method of treatment for this illness. He wanted to begin treatment with these right away.

During the earlier years of my illness I had tried Prednisone treatment, and had found myself extremely agitated on them, so extreme that I had thought that I might suffer a heart attack while on them. I was uncomfortable with either drug treatment and tried to explain to him that I had difficulties using Steroids, and really did not like the look of either of these drug options. He looked directly at me and bluntly stated that I just did not want to get well.

I was shocked. I was on sick leave insurance at the time, and so naturally felt very threatened by this statement, so I agreed to once again undergo steroid treatment.

Shortly into this new treatment the toes on my left foot began to blacken. The blood flow to my feet had stopped, and just as happens in a case of severe frostbite, without blood flow my toes were beginning to die. I was put on the drug Adalat to open the small capillaries within my toes. I was also told to stay off my feet and to bathe them in salt water throughout the day to prevent gangrene from setting in. I was terrified. As the days passed the darkness spread across my foot, and my center toe begin to die inward, the black slowly creeping deeper into that toe.

My steroid prescription ended and I did not renew it. Within a week or two, and by some small miracle the circulation began returning to my feet, but was it too late to save my one foot? I started massaging the bottoms of my feet morning and night to encourage any blood flow that I possibly could. I continued the salt baths, staying off my feet as much as possible, and the Adalat combined with other anti-inflammatory drugs.

I began seeing a local surgeon every second day waiting for him to make the call as to when to operate. Each visit he would lay the stethoscope on my foot, and listen for the blood flow, then nod his head that it was okay for me to leave. My family doctor began to sound like a mother hen, pat your feet dry, never rub them, are you smoking, stay off your feet.

The black on my toes began to dry and shrivel. The layers of black peeled off one by one. On my center toe the black pulled up like a cork coming out of a bottle and then the gaping hole slowly closed over. I was safe. The dreaded gangarine did not set in.

To this day my general practitioner still says that he is shocked that I did not lose my foot. He said that the very least that he thought that I would lose was two toes.

Now that I was well enough to travel again, I was once more sent to the larger medical center, and placed in the hospital there. Here the Specialist who had prescribed the Steroids was to once again treat me. He looked at me and said something to the effect that I certainly looked different.

Having gained forty pounds on the steroids I would hazard a guess that I certainly did. I was prescribed the immune suppressant plaquinel and began taking it. He also hauled me down the hallway one morning to present me in front of a group of medical students. My diagnosis, and recent health difficulties were explained to them, and then I was escorted out, so they could discuss my condition.

After a week I was sent home. My doctor was sent a note that contained the following information: JO-1 antibodies are a marker for people with Antisynthetase Syndrome. Individuals with this illness generally suffer from polymyositis, multi-arthritis, interstitual lung disease, severe Raynaulds phenomenon, as well as mechanics' hands.

I have to wonder if this knowledge came from one of those medical students, but whatever the case, I refused to see that specialist again. I was to later learn at that brain fog, swallowing, and breathing difficulties are all common symptoms for people with myositis.

Since that time I have learned a lot about my illness. I have also learned to research every aspect of my illness, symptoms and treatments, and to insure that I play a major part in my treatments and therapies. I've learned to never be afraid to question a physician. They have the medical knowledge to treat you but you know your body so to receive the most beneficial treatment you must work together on your therapies.

Knowledge is indeed power.

Butterflies are a symbol of freedom.
Butterflies are a symbol of freedom.

Let Your Endorphins Out To Play.

When you participate in pleasurable activities like smiling, laughing, exercising or playing, your brain does an amazing thing and releases a little chemical message known as an endorphin.

These endorphins are feel good messages that have the power to actually remove physical and emotional pain. They travel down the spine, and then throughout your body, sending a feeling of well being as they go. These endorphins not only have the ability to relieve pain but they also have the power to make you feel happy. So remember to take time to play - It really is important.

Do you or someone that you know suffer from Raynauds syndrome?

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    • Jakes51 profile image

      Nicole Jakes 6 months ago from Denver, CO

      People think I'm crazy for carrying gloves with me during the summer, but then they see my "dead fingers" (my husband's terminology) when the weather dips below 80 and realize it's a legit concern for me.

    • profile image

      Ibidii 2 years ago

      What a set of trials you have endured! I pray that it is under control now and you are able to do the things you want to do. I love butterflies! Stay strong. Yes, question everything the Dr's have to say. They are not Gods and not perfect for sure.

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 3 years ago

      What an interesting lens about a condition I didn't know very much about (I'd only heard of it). Your explanations are very clear. Well done.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 3 years ago from Canada

      @anonymous: Raynauds has been around a very long time but is often an add on to other chronic illnesses.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 3 years ago from Canada

      @mindtrip88: That definitely is how raynauds syndrome works. The small blood vessels in the extremities shut off leaving those parts without blood flow.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 3 years ago from Canada

      @opatoday: I am doing quite well now. It is largely in the winter or if I am on steroids that the Raynauds becomes a scary problem.

    • opatoday profile image

      opatoday 3 years ago

      I am happy you are getting through a really stressful situation with Reynaud's syndrome.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      @mindtrip88: If you have other health issues then other health issues like Raynaud's syndrome like to tag along it seems. Many chronic illnesses unfortunately have a wide range of overlap to them.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Raynaud's Phenomenon Syndrome sure sounds scary and the fact that it cannot be discovered through x-ray makes it more deadly. It will take mankind a while to conquer these diseases while new ones are constantly discovered.

    • mindtrip88 profile image

      mindtrip88 4 years ago

      Wow you seem to now my health issues (although I have a lot), This one is irritating because the rest of my body will be so hot (I live in AZ) yet my fingers & toes will be blue and freezing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I happen to have Raynaud's Syndrome. I am wondering if it is possible that i could have passed it on to my 6 month old son?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      What a scary experience to go through and be told by a doctor that you didn't want to get well had to be devastating at the time when you were counting on him for help. You still have your foot, glory! The good that comes out of this is that others will be helped and encouraged as they read your story and the wisdom of your recommendations. Impressively done with excellence, which is your habit...shaking a little angel dust over you, be blessed!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      @WildFacesGallery: Raynaulds phenomenon often accompanies other illnesses. Smoking and stress can also bring it on. Usually the condition remains mild but it can become very serious as it did in my case. Steroids increase the effect of raynaulds.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      @darciefrench lm: The severe bout of raynauld's syndrome definitely gave me a rough time. I was so afraid that losing my foot would be the start of the end for me. Luckily I still have both my feet and I am still walking.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      @Demaw: I think that sometimes specialists get to relaxed and arrogant in their position and believe that they no longer have to do the research because they know everything. So the specialists actually have less knowledge then doctors who are vigilant on keeping up with new developments. With Jo1 antibodies, raynaulds syndrome, and other rare illnesses it is important for doctors to keep up on what is being learned about these diseases.

    • Demaw profile image

      Demaw 6 years ago

      I too was helped greatly by my family practitioner. Specialists are important and needed but nothing can take the place of a competent, caring GP.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      @darciefrench lm: I am currently on an uphill swing, so if all goes well I will gain back some muscle, and with it a bit more of my health. Thank you so much for your concern. Best wishes.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      @SAMEPRINCESS10: is funny that you mentioned this because I just did an article on Shea butter lotion It is a nut product though so if you have nut allergies you cannot use it.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 6 years ago

      Wow- you got through a really stressful situation with Reynaud's syndrome. Hope this year brings perfect health.

    • SAMEPRINCESS10 profile image

      SAMEPRINCESS10 6 years ago

      Hi Mrs. Mermaid, can your hands get really really dry ? If so what kind of lotions shoild we use ? Thanks!

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 6 years ago from Iowa

      Hadn't heard of this before. Thank you for sharing your story. Squidoo is a tremendous learning sight.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      @ChrisDay LM: I combine many alternatives therapies with my prescription medications. Lifestyle change is also a major component of keeping an illness in control. Best wishes in the New Year.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Very nice & informative lense about Raynaud's Phenomenon! I can learn some things important here. Thanks for sharing. Happy Holidays :)

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      Interesting lens, thanks. Homeopathy, by the way, may have an answer for sufferers of this disease.

    • JJNW profile image

      JJNW 6 years ago from USA

      * Blessed by a fellow SquidAngel * for fabulous information, lovely layout and being a BIG help to many, I am sure! Great page!

    • KarenTBTEN profile image

      KarenTBTEN 6 years ago

      I hadn't known the phenomenon could be so serious. Blessed by a SquidAngel.

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 6 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Wow, what a scary time you had with your foot and toes. Glad to hear you healed without further problems. I've a friend who suffers from Raynaud's, so have heard about this Phenomenon. Amazing what can happen to one's body! Thanks for not only educating us on Raynaud's Penomenon, but for sharing your personal story, as it made it easier to understand.

    • profile image

      poutine 6 years ago

      I suffer from Raynaud's Phenomenon also.

      Great info here.

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 7 years ago

      I had not heard of this. I am lensrolling it to my marfans syndrome lens. Blessed by an angel!

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 7 years ago

      I was diagnosed with Raynaud's back in my early 20's shortly after learning I also has rhuematoid arthritis & lupus... basically the whole autoimmune enchilada so to speak lol...I've never had any problems with my feet, but my palms have the bright pink tell-tale markings of Raynaud's, and are always freezing cold, tingly & numb.

      Raynaud's is often missed by doctors, so it's great to see info to help people know the symptoms, because a lot of doctors don't even know this didease until the patient brings it to their attention.


    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 8 years ago

      Great lens. Didn't know this Raynauld's phenomenon existed. Glad to learn.