Raynaud's Phenomenon Raynaud's Disease & Raynaud's Syndrome

Fact: Raynaud's is more common in people who live in cold places

What is Raynaud's Disease?

Primary Raynaud's Phenomenon is known as Raynaud's Disease while Secondary Raynaud's Phenomenon is knows as Raynaud's Syndrome. Both are commonly referred to as Raynaud's Phenomenon. There is a significant difference between the two as Raynaud's Disease has no known cause and is diagnosed when there is no other connection or reason for having it. 
Raynaud's Syndrome is caused by a known primary disease, most commonly connective tissue disorders such as systemic lupus erythematosus. Measurement of hand-temperature gradients is one tool used to distinguish between the primary and secondary forms.

Raynaud's is a hyperactivation of the sympathetic nervous system causing extreme vasoconstriction of the peripheral blood vessels, leading to issue hypoxia. Chronic, recurrent cases of Raynaud phenomenon can result in atrophy of the skin, subcutaneous tissues, and muscle. In rare cases it can cause ulceration and ischemic gangrene.

Raynaud's (ray-NOHZ) disease causes some areas of your body — such as your fingers and toes — to feel numb and cold in response to cold temperatures or stress. In Raynaud's disease, smaller arteries that supply blood to your skin narrow, limiting blood circulation to affected areas (vasospasm).

What are associated conditions to Raynaud's Syndrome?

  • Connective tissue disorders:
    • scleroderma[7]
    • systemic lupus erythematosus
    • rheumatoid arthritis
    • Sjögren's syndrome
    • dermatomyositis
    • polymyositis
    • mixed connective tissue disease
    • cold agglutinin disease
    • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
  • Eating disorders:
    • anorexia nervosa
  • Obstructive disorders:
    • atherosclerosis
    • Buerger's disease
    • Takayasu's arteritis
    • subclavian aneurysms
    • thoracic outlet syndrome
  • Drugs:
    • beta-blockers
    • cytotoxic drugs - particularly chemotherapeutics and most especially bleomycin
    • ciclosporin
    • bromocriptine
    • ergotamine
    • sulfasalazine
    • anthrax vaccines whose primary ingredient is the Anthrax Protective Antigen
    • stimulant medications such as those used to treat ADHD
  • Occupation:
    • jobs involving vibration, particularly drilling, suffer from vibration white finger
    • exposure to vinyl chloride, mercury
    • exposure to the cold (e.g. by working as a frozen food packer)
  • Others:
    • physical trauma, such as that sustained in auto accidents or other traumatic events
    • Lyme disease
    • hypothyroidism
    • cryoglobulinemia
    • malignancy
    • chronic fatigue syndrome
    • reflex sympathetic dystrophy
    • carpal tunnel syndrome
    • magnesium deficiency
    • multiple sclerosis
    • erythromelalgia (the opposite of Raynaud's, with hot and warm extremities) often co-exists in patients with Raynaud's
What are the symptoms of Raynaud's?

A person with Raynaud's phenomenon can experience three phases of skin color changes: white (pallor), blue (cyanosis) and red (rubor). There is not a set order to the changes in skin color and not all people experience all three skin colorations.

  • Pallor (whiteness) may occur in response to the collapse of the arteries in an affected body part.
  • Cyanosis (blueness) appears because the fingers or toes are not getting enough oxygen-rich blood. Other symptoms that occur during cyanosis are feeling cold and numbness.
  • Rubor (redness) occurs as the blood returns to the affected areas. After an attack is over, throbbing and tingling may occur in the fingers and toes. Attacks of Raynaud's Phenomenon can last from less than a minute to several hours.
What is the Prognosis?

The prognosis for patients with primary Raynaud phenomenon is usually very good, with no mortality and little morbidity. In very rare cases, however, ischemia of the affected body part can result in necrosis.

The prognosis for patients with secondary Raynaud phenomenon is related to the underlying disease. The prognosis for the involved digit or digits in these patients is related to the severity of the ischemia and the effectiveness of maneuvers to restore blood flow.
Want to learn more?

The following are organizations and/or websites dedicated to providing information and education surrounding Raynaud's Disease. These organizations are dedicated to research, education, awareness, and/or support. They are listed in Alphabetical order without any preference or prejudice. Listing these organizations is not a recommendation or referral in any regard for seeking treatment or consultation or support for treatment.

Molly's Fund
Raynaud's Assoc., Inc.
Raynaud's Disease Support Group
Raynaud's & Scleroderma Association
Information on this page from:
The Cleveland Clinic
The Mayo Clinic