What causes Raynaud’s phenomenon?

Raynaud’s phenomenon is believed to be an autoimmune disorder. In an autoimmune disease, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues. If the underlying cause of the symptoms is unknown, the condition is called Raynaud’s disease or primary Raynaud’s.

Known underlying diseases and disorders that can cause Raynaud’s phenomenon include certain autoimmune disorders, such as:

  • Polymyositis
  • Scleroderma
  • Sjogren syndrome
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus

Certain factors can trigger symptoms of Raynaud’s phenomenon. Triggers include:

  • Exposure to cold air
  • Exposure to cold water

What are the risk factors for Raynaud’s phenomenon?

A number of factors are thought to increase your chances of developing Raynaud’s phenomenon. People at risk for Raynaud’s phenomenon include women between the ages of 15 and 40 years of age and people with underlying diseases or behaviors that cause damage or narrowing of the blood vessels. These include:

  • Diabetes

  • High cholesterol and atherosclerosis

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)

  • Medications that cause constriction of the blood vessels including beta blockers, certain migraine medications, cold and allergy drugs, birth control pills, and certain cancer drugs

  • Smoking

Reducing your risk of Raynaud’s phenomenon

Not all people with risk factors will develop Raynaud’s phenomenon, but you can lower your risk of developing Raynaud’s phenomenon by:

  • Not smoking

  • Notifying your health care provider promptly of side effects of medications, such as a change in skin coloring and pain or numbness of the fingers and toes  

  • Seeking regular medical care and following your treatment plan for high cholesterol,  atherosclerosis, hypertension, diabetes, and other medical conditions


What is Raynaud’s phenomenon?

Raynaud’s phenomenon is a condition in which there are spasms, constriction and narrowing of the capillaries of the fingers and toes. Capillaries are tiny arteries, blood vessels that supply vital oxygen and nutrients to cells and tissues.

A steady supply of oxygen and nutrients are critical to the health of the cells and tissues of the fingers and toes. Narrowing of the blood ves... Read more about raynaud’s phenomenonintroduction


What are the symptoms of Raynaud’s phenomenon?

Symptoms and complications of Raynaud’s phenomenon are due to constriction and narrowing of the capillaries of the fingers and toes. This can result in an insufficient supply of blood, oxygen and nutrients to cells and tissues. Less commonly, Raynaud’s phenomenon can also cause symptoms and complications in the nose, lips and earlobes.

Symptoms of Raynaud’s phenomenon include:
Read more about raynaud’s phenomenonsymptoms


How is Raynaud’s phenomenon treated?

Raynaud’s phenomenon is treatable with regular medical care and consistent compliance with your treatment plan. The most effective treatment plan for Raynaud’s phenomenon employs a multifaceted approach that begins with lifestyle and medication changes and may require surgery in severe cases.

Treatment of Raynaud’s phenomenon includes:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 6, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Heart, Blood and Circulation