What is Raynaud's Disease, Syndrome, or Phenomenon?

TJ Wolf

Disclaimer

This article is not intended to be medical advice or pharmaceutical advice.

The article is simply my own story and experiences as someone with Raynaud's Disease and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE).

As always, you should consult medical professionals with regard to your own health and decisions.

What is Raynaud's Disease, Syndrome, or Phenomenon?

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Picture of snowflake crystal.Aaron Burden/Unsplash

As Summer begins its final month, and the chill of Fall and Winter air is mere weeks away in the Northern Hemisphere, many with autoimmune diseases such as Lupus dread the forthcoming discomfort and pain of Raynaud's Disease.

What is Raynaud's Disease?

Not surprising you ask.

The photo is what happens to my hands when Raynaud's triggers.

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Picture of my hand when Raynaud's triggers loss of blood flow due to blood vessel restriction.TJ Wolf/TJ Wolf

This can occur with a change in temperature as the result of being outside in cold air, placing my hand in the freezer to retrieve frozen food, or even stepping out of a hot shower into a cooler room temperature.

The actual photo was taken on a day where I came inside a warm building after being outside in 30 degree temperatures, even though I had heat reflective gloves on when outside.

Raynaud's Disease is commonly referred to as disease, syndrome, or phenonmenon. The name varies in my experience with doctors and reading articles.

From my research, the disease can be "secondary" and coupled with another primary disease such as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). Raynaud's can also be a primary illness alone.

Per the Lupus Foundation of America...

"Raynaud’s Disease (RD), also called Raynaud’s phenomenon, is a condition of the cardiovascular system in which the blood vessels contract, restricting the flow of blood, usually in the hands, feet or both. RD occurs in up to one-third of individuals with lupus."

"Lupus-related Raynaud's usually results from inflammation of nerves or blood vessels and is triggered by stress or by cold temperatures. With Raynaud’s, the tips of the fingers or toes turn red, white, blue or purple. This may be accompanied by pain, numbness, or tingling."

What does the Pain and Discomfort feel like?

From my own personal experience...
Remember the time you were dared by a friend to stick your hands in the ice and water filled cooler of drinks at a family barbecue?

And the longer you kept your hands in there, the more intense the burning and the pain?

Like needles piercing your burning skin?

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Picture of a person with acupuncture needles in his or her skin.Katherine Hanlon/Unsplash

And the longer you held the dare, the more you wondered if you would give yourself some kind of frostbite or hypothermia?

Well that's pretty close.

Except there is no ice and water filled cooler with your hands in it.

And therefore nothing to remove your hand from to begin immediate relief of the burning, stinging, numbness, and pain.

What can trigger Raynaud's?

Well you now know an ice and water filled cooler can!

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Person wearing a parka in the cold and their face is covered by cold breath mist.Talgat Baizrahmanov/Unsplash

So what else?

  • Going outside in cool or cold weather without gloves
  • Not wearing warm socks and/or shoes inside or outside
  • Entering a building with an abrupt temperature change from the outside, either warmer or colder
  • Washing your hands with cold water
  • Reaching for something in a refrigerator or freezer
  • Entering or exiting a pool or other body of water
  • Entering or exiting a shower or bath
  • Stress

At Home

Maintaining a reasonable heat temperature (or air conditioning) at home can help you a great deal.

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Woman with mittens holding a hot beverage in a mug.Alex/Unsplash

In my own personal experience, I also do the following when its cold...

  • heat reflective outdoor gloves, jackets, pullovers, and/or liners
  • knee high compression socks
  • merino wool socks over the compression socks
  • merino wool or heat reflective material slippers, shoes, or boots
  • wear compression gloves indoors (fingerless so I can type, write, and grip things as needed)
  • layer my clothing indoors with a wool or cotton sweater
  • drink warm liquids such as tea
  • eat soup
  • take a liquid or gel cap CoQ10 supplement (consult your healthcare provider first)
  • portable space heater (with caution of course as space heaters can be dangerous or increase fire risk)

At Work

The pain is excruciating for those who suffer from Raynaud's Disease when reasonable room temperature is not maintained in offices during the cold months.
Activities such as typing, mouse clicks, opening doors, or gripping items can be extremely painful or frustrating due to loss of feeling.

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Dog sitting and wrapped in a blanket outdoors.Matthew Henry/Unsplash

The home recommendations from above may apply if feasible for your office setting. Although expect to get looks and questions if wearing gloves inside or needing an office approved space heater.

Learn More About Raynaud's Disease from the Lupus Foundation of America

Read the article from the Lupus Foundation of America for additional information...

"If Raynaud’s is having a negative impact on your life, you should speak to your doctor about it. In severe cases, medications may be prescribed to relax the blood vessels."

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My primary mission is to spread awareness about the disease Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and many of its comorbidities. Given most physical activities cause me pain nowadays, I've taken on writing as a new hobby, form of therapy, and method to interact with others. You will find I also experiment with articles related to business and careers.

Atlanta, GA
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