Raynaud's, named for the identifying French physician, Maurice Raynaud, causes an interruption in blood flow to fingers and toes. Ears and nose may also be involved. When the extremity is exposed to cold or the sufferer is under stress, the blood vessels spasm. This causes the extremity to turn white then blue then bright red over the course of the attack.
Tingling, swelling and painful throbbing are associated with the Raynaud's spasm. The attack may last from minutes to hours and in the most severe cases ulcerations may develop which can lead to infections and gangrene in the extremity.
RA sufferers develop what is known as secondary Raynaud's syndrome. Meaning, the syndrome is secondary to the Rheumatoid Arthritis.
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Avoiding cold temperatures, wearing gloves in cold weather and when accessing freezers, reducing stress, regular exercise, relaxation techniques and a type of medication called calcium channel blockers (frequently used for high blood pressure) may all help reduce the severity of Raynaud's spasms.
Development of ulcerations from Raynaud's can lead to gangrene in the extremity so the importance of seeking medical attention upon development of an ulceration must be stressed.
1)Raynaud’s Association - 2011
2) WebMd 1996 - 2008