Raynaud's disease is a condition that features with spasms of peripheral blood vessel. It generally affects the blood vessels in toes, fingers, ear or nose. The trigger of the spasms is exposure to cold temperatures. This condition may stand on its own or can be connected to several autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus or even scleroderma. There is also connection between Raynaud's disease and Buerger's disease and atherosclerosis.
The cause of the disease may include frequent trauma especially vibrations. Typists and pianists are prone to the disease more. Prevalence is higher in women than in men. Smoking generally leads to Vasoconstriction so it may accelerate course of the disease. Therefore patients suffering from Raynaud's disease must not smoke at all.
In the beginning of the disease the circulation is restored after the attack and the damage to the blood vessels is reversible. Still in later stages of the disease certain irreversible change may occur and they mainly include tapering of the fingers and slow growth of the nails. In most extreme cases Reynaud's disease may eventually result in ulcerations of the skin or even gangrene.
The basic problem in the disease is hyperconstriction of blood vessels. This leads to reduction in blood flow and the specific area is not supplied with blood appropriately. The disease starts after the exposure to cold temperatures. The arteries of the exposed area constrict. This leads to obvious symptom of the disease pallor of the affected area. What happens next is dilatation of veins and capillaries. Veins are in charge with carrying of deoxygenated blood and their dilatation gives the skin blue coloration. Apart from changes in skin color patient experiences specific sensations such as numbness and tingling or burning sensations in the affected area. After the exposed area is subjected to warmer temperatures the arteries dilate. The bluish coloration of the skin turns extremely red. In this phase the patients experience painful sensations.
Unfortunately once the disease starts it affects the tips of the fingers and toes but tends to spread to complete length of fingers and toes. Not only is there transients coloration of the skin but the skin eventually becomes tense, pale, smooth and glossy.
If untreated properly the ulcers may develop on the affected area and in rather extreme cases the gangrene occurs. Still this severe complication which required amputation happens in only 1 % of all cases.
What can also lead to spasm of blood vessels apart from cold includes increased emotional stress.
For all those who have experienced previously mentioned symptoms it is recommendable to visit their doctors and he/ she will examine the patient, conduct specific test and diagnose the disease on time. The timely setting of the diagnosis leads to the appropriate timing of the treatment.