Raynaud’s disease causes smaller arteries that supply blood to the skin to narrow which limits the blood circulation to the affected areas. Raynaud’s disease symptoms may include cold fingers and toes, color changes in the skin in response to cold or stress, and a numb prickly feeling upon warming the stressed area. A Raynaud’s attack might only affect one finger or toe, and does not necessarily always affect the same digits. It commonly affects the toes, but can also affect other areas such as nose, lips, ears and even nipples—lasting several minutes to several hours.
Doctors do not completely understand the cause of Raynaud’s attacks. What they do know is that blood vessels in the hands and feet appear to overreact to cold temperatures and stress. The blood vessels in the fingers and toes vasospasm causing constriction. This severely temporarily limits the blood supply to those regions of the body. There are secondary causes for Raynaud’s, known as Raynaud’s phenomena, which may include conditions such as scleroderma, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, diseases of the arteries, carpal tunnel syndrome, and repetitive trauma.
Chronic impaired circulation may lead to tissue death and gangrene.
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