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Raynaud’s Syndrome : Definition, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Tuesday, August 21st 2012. | Artery Health, Disease

Raynaud’s Syndrome Definition

Two very similar diseases can cause problems of staining your fingers. Raynaud’s disease is a vascular disorder of the extremities, occurring without detectable cause. Raynaud’s phenomenon is a condition very similar, but the cause is known (systemic disease, artery disease, illness). Both conditions result in a sudden constriction of the arterioles of the fingers or toes causing a sensation of finger death pale, cold and painful. This is most often spontaneously resolutive in minutes.

Raynaud’s disease, which causes a cooling sensation and finger death mainly affects fingers bilaterally and symmetrically. Women are more often affected by this hereditary disease that concerns 5 to 6% of the population.

Under the influence of cold or emotional context, arterioles constrict and finger blood flow is reduced especially at the ends. It follows a tingling sensation, numbness or burning and fingers become pale, cold and painful. After warming their color changes to violet-blue (cyanosis) and pains are growing a few minutes before stopping completely.

Raynaud’s Syndrome Diagmosis

The diagnosis is based on history of the disease (white finger during cold exposure), younger age, sex (female), the absence of lesions during the clinical examination and additional tests and the absence of other causes (drugs, professional context).

Raynaud

Raynaud’s Syndrome (img thanks to nhlbi.nih.gov)

Raynaud’s Syndrome Evolution

Raynaud’s disease is a benign condition. However, there are some more serious forms which may be the cause of painful skin ulcers and poor wound healing.

The less severe forms of the disease can be treated by a protection against the cold, whereas when the disease is more severe, some treatments can be prescribed by doctors (vasodilators, calcium channel blockers).

Raynaud’s Phenomenon Definition

Raynaud’s phenomenon results in symptoms similar to those of Raynaud’s disease, but in this case they are caused by a specific cause: systemic disease (scleroderma), artery disease, medications (beta-blockers), occupational cause.

Treatment involves either treatment of the disease in question is by stopping the offending drug.

Raynaud’s Phenomenon Causes

The vibration exposure entails three distinct vascular effects each of which can be the cause of Raynaud’s phenomenon:

  • Achievement of a very small arteries of the fingers corresponding to the microscope, with a thickening of the arterial wall and a smooth muscle cell hypertrophy. Latter enter into the constitution of the vascular walls (arteries, arterioles, venules and veins). Their contraction causes a reduction in the size of vessels. Capillaroscopy allow the eventual confirmation of such lesions.
  • In healthy volunteers, exposure to vibration, even if it does not touch a hand, can occur a phenomenon of vasospasm at the four corners. The peripheral nervous system informs the central nervous system of the presence of vibration and it responds by releasing a potent vasoconstrictor molecule, the endothelin 1.
  • Arterial thrombosis of the upper extremities, rare but serious complication, since up to the loss of fingers. At first, thrombosis (formation of a blood clot blocking all or part of a blood vessel) is limited to the fingers and then extends to the wrist and the ulnar artery, vulnerable to its location close to bone structures which transmit vibration. This thrombosis is probably due to activation of coagulation by the traumatic effect of vibration on the wall of blood vessels. The diagnosis of thrombosis will by Doppler arterial.

Apart from these vascular changes, vibrations result, the nerve endings, an effect demyelinating myelin sheath covering being the axons (nerve fibers) and allowing the passage of electrical message. Tingling in disease vibrations are the result. The electromyogram allow the assessment of these lesions.

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