Q&A: Raynaud’s Syndrome

Cold weather’s on its way and with it comes a lot more of a curious medical condition called Raynaud’s Disease. Never heard of it? Then read on. October is Raynaud’s Awareness month, so all of us at Montgomery Foot Care Specialists think it’s a good time to pass along some helpful information.

Q: How do you know you have Raynaud’s?

A: You can suspect you have Raynaud’s (pronounced “Ray-NODES”) when you get certain symptoms in your fingers or toes:

  • Discoloration – your fingers and/or toes turn a bloodless white, sometimes blue.
  • Pain, numbness, throbbing, or tingling.
  • A return to normal color and feeling once you’ve warmed up.

Q: What’s going on inside my fingers and toes?

A:  The small blood vessels react to cold by going into spasms. The spasms result in restricted blood flow. That’s why fingers and toes turn blue or white – they’re not getting enough blood.

Q: Does Raynaud’s happen only in the winter?

A: No. Cold weather certainly can and does bring on the symptoms. But Raynaud’s symptoms can appear anytime a person feels cold, no matter what the season. A Raynaud’s attack can also occur as a result of an emotionally upsetting event.

Q: Why does it happen?

A: It’s not clear why some people have this extreme reaction to cold and others don’t. In rare cases, it’s because there’s an underlying disease that can lead to episodes of Raynaud’s, usually some type of autoimmune disease such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. However, the vast majority of Raynaud’s cases are “primary,” meaning it’s not connected to any other condition.

Q: Should I tell my doctor?

A: If your toes sometimes turn starkly white or blue, you should definitely mention it to our podiatrists, Dr. Heidi M. Christie and Dr. Chanda L. Day-Houts. It might be Raynaud’s or it might indicate a different kind of circulation problem that needs attention. Let our expert foot doctors make a full examination to diagnose Raynaud’s and rule out other, more serious conditions. Call us at our office in Montgomery, AL at (334) 396-3668 or make an appointment online.