You come in from outside and your toes and fingers are freezing cold. You notice that they are turning white and feel numb. Then they start to turn blue. It can’t be frostbite because you weren’t out that long. It takes time, but eventually your toes and fingers begin to warm up. They turn red and begin to throb. It takes about 15 minutes to half an hour before your digits are back to normal. Don’t brush this off as just a reaction to a cold. It may be a condition that we treat at Long Island Foot & Ankle Group, PC, known as Raynaud’s Disease.
What’s Behind Raynaud’s Disease?
This condition is a bit of a mystery and doctors are not entirely sure about what causes it. Basically the blood vessels in your toes and fingers constrict abnormally as a reaction to cold. Raynaud’s can also be caused by stress, an injury, repetitive motion over a long period of time (typist, jack hammer operator) and certain medications. Raynaud’s can occur on its own, known as Primary Raynaud’s, or in conjunction with another medical condition, in which case it is considered Secondary Raynaud’s.
Primary Raynaud’s—this is the more common of the two types. It is sometimes very mild and even resolves on its own.
Secondary Raynaud’s—in patients with this form of the disease, there is an underlying cause associated with Raynaud’s. These include connective tissue diseases, such as scleroderma, arterial diseases like atherosclerosis, and Carpal tunnel syndrome.
Other risk factors for Raynaud’s include:
- Being female—more women than men get Raynaud’s Disease
- Living in a cold climate
- Family history of Raynaud’s
- Age—Primary Raynaud’s most often strikes between the ages of 15 and 30; Secondary Raynaud’s usually develops after the age of 40
If you notice that you seem to be having an extreme reaction to the cold in your feet and toes, make an appointment at our Valley Stream (516) 825-4070 or Lake Success (516) 327-0074 office. Our foot and ankle surgeons, Dr. Russell Caprioli, Dr. Mary Ann Bilotti, Dr. John Haight and Dr. Marzana Mleczko will examine your feet and determine if you are suffering from Raynaud’s Disease. Most treatment is based on prevention. The foot doctor can give you tips to prevent Raynaud’s attacks based on the cause and severity of your symptoms.