Reynaud’s is a condition that causes a narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the extremities – namely the fingers and toes.
Typically this narrowing is an exaggerated response to either cold temperatures or stress.
How does Reynaud’s present to a physiotherapist?
Reynaud’s usually presents as a colour change in the fingertips or toes. They will often initially turn from white, to blue. The affected areas may begin to feel cold, or may also experience sensation changes such as burning, tingling, and eventual numbness. When the circulation is restored, the area may turn pink or red, and experience a burning or prickly feeling.
In most cases Reynaud’s is an inconvenience, however in severe cases the prolonged lack of blood supply may cause ulcers or gangrene to develop.
Reynaud’s can present as primary or secondary. Primary Reynaud’s, or Reynaud’s disease, is a condition that has no specific cause. It typically presents on its own.
Primary Reynaud’s is more common, and usually has less serious implications compared to secondary Reynaud’s.
Secondary Reynaud’s, or Reynaud’s Phenomenon, occurs as an effect that is related to another underlying cause. Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disorders, and scleroderma are all conditions that may cause Reynaud’s-like symptoms. Secondary Reynaud’s may also be a result of injury to the arteries themselves, or exposure to chemicals that can cause thickening of the arterial walls, such as smoking.
How is Reynaud’s Disease treated?
Treatment for Reynaud’s should always begin by addressing the underlying cause. Keeping hands and feet warm, or promoting movement of the area may increase the blood supply.
Your GP may issue medications in serious cases to assist with opening up and relaxing the blood vessels.