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Raynaud’s Disease

Raynaud's disease is a condition where blood flow to your fingers, toes, ears, or nose is restricted or interrupted. This occurs when the blood vessels in your hands or feet constrict. The constriction is due to extremely cold temperatures or stress. There are two main types of Raynaud’s disease. Primary Raynaud’s cause is not known. This type is more common and tends to be less severe than secondary Raynaud's. Secondary Raynaud’s is caused by an underlying disease, condition, or other factor.

Those individuals diagnosed with Raynaud’s disease (regardless of type) will typically go through "Raynaud's attacks." During an attack, little or no blood flows to certain body parts. As a result, the skin may turn white and then blue for a short time. Raynaud's attacks can last less than a minute or several hours, and can occur daily or weekly.

Raynaud's disease will not cause any long-term tissue damage or disability. However, those individuals with severe cases can develop skin sores or gangrene from prolonged or repeated Raynaud's attacks.

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Causes of Raynaud’s Disease

The cause for Primary Raynaud’s disease is not known. Secondary Raynaud’s disease is caused by other underlying conditions. However, other traits or habits may also raise your risk for the disease. These conditions are known as risk factors and include:

Non-Modifiable Risk Factors: These factors are irreversible and cannot be changed. The more of these risk factors you have, the greater your chance of Raynaud’s disease.

  • Older age
  • Family history/Genetics
  • Women are more likely to develop this condition than men.

Modifiable Risk Factors: These factors can be modified, treated or controlled through medications or lifestyle changes.

  • High blood pressure
  • Extreme emotional stress.
  • Long history of cigarette smoking and/or drug abuse.
  • Living in cold climate areas.

Other conditions that contribute to Raynaud’s disease:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Certain blood disorders (i.e. anemia, hemophilia, blood clots, and blood cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma).
  • Thyroid Disease: A condition that is caused by the over or under function of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is an essential organ for producing thyroid hormones, which maintains the body’s metabolism.
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Autoimmune Disease: A condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body (e.g. lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma).
  • Injuries to hands and feet.
  • Exposure to air pollution (a mixture of solid particles and gases in the air (such as car emissions, chemicals from factories, dust, pollen, among others).
  • Certain medicines used to treat for migraine, cancer, cold/allergy, among others.

Symptoms of Raynaud’s Disease

During a Raynaud's attack, the arteries become very narrow for a brief period. As a result, little or no blood flows to affected body parts. This may cause these areas to:

  • Turn white and then blue.
  • Feel numb, cold, or painful.
  • Throb, tingle, or burn.

Diagnosis of Raynaud’s Disease

Your doctor will diagnose you based on your medical history, a physical exam, and test results. Your doctor may recommend one or more of the following diagnostic tests:

Treatment of Raynaud’s Disease

Raynaud’s disease has no cure. However, treatments can reduce the number and severity of the attacks. Treatment options include the following:

Lifestyle Changes

  • Avoid living in cold temperatures.
  • Avoid certain medicines used to treat for migraine, cancer, cold/allergy, among others.
  • Limit your caffeine use.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Exercise under the directions of your doctor.
  • Make and keep appointments to see your doctor for routine check-ups and follow-up tests.


  • ACE inhibitors will help blood vessels relax and open up, leading to a lower blood pressure.
  • Beta blockers will help reduce your blood pressure.
  • Alpha blockers will help reduce the arteries’ resistance and relax the muscle tone of the vascular walls.
  • Calcium channel blockers will help relax and open up narrowed blood vessels, and reduce heart rate and lower blood pressure.

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Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center
94 Old Short Hills Road
Livingston, NJ 07039
(973) 322-5000
Monmouth Medical Center
300 Second Avenue
Long Branch, NJ 07740
(732) 222-5200
Clara Maass Medical Center
1 Clara Maass Drive
Belleville, NJ 07109
(973) 450-2000
Community Medical Center
99 Highway 37 West
Toms River, NJ 08755
(732) 557-8000
Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
201 Lyons Avenue at Osborne Terrace
Newark, NJ 07112
(973) 926-7000
Jersey City Medical Center
355 Grand Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 915-2000
RWJ University Hospital Rahway
865 Stone Street
Rahway, NJ 07065
(732) 381-4200
RWJ University Hospital Somerset
110 Rehill Avenue
Somerville, NJ 08876
(908) 685-2200
RWJ University Hospital Hamilton
1 Hamilton Health Place
Hamilton, NJ 08690
(609) 586-7900
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
1 Robert Wood Johnson Place
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
(732) 828-3000
Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus
600 River Avenue
Lakewood, NJ 08701
(732) 363-1900

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