There’s a particular group of maladies that are named after the person who first “discovered” them. One of these is Raynaud’s disease, also called Raynaud’s phenomenon or Raynaud’s syndrome. A. G. Maurice Raynaud was the 19th-century French physician who first took a group of symptoms that affect mainly the fingers and toes, and named them after himself.
At Clifton Foot & Ankle Center in Centreville, Virginia, we get questions about Raynaud’s this time of year. That’s because its particular symptoms tend to affect people in the cold of wintertime. And we don’t think anyone would argue that January 2018 hasn’t brought some of the most frigid air that Fairfax County’s ever experienced.
What patients are saying
Raynaud’s disease causes small arteries in the fingers and toes of some people to go into spasm – constricting so much that blood can’t get to these outer extremities. Here are some facts about Raynaud’s:
- Cold temps aren’t the only thing that can bring on an attack. The thermometer doesn’t have to dip below freezing for fingers and toes to turn white. People with Raynaud’s say that they have symptoms any time their body feels cold. They have a hard time in the frozen food aisle or exiting a cold lake, even in summer. Being stressed or feeling emotionally upset can also bring on an attack.
- Your fingers and toes change palettes. An attack of Raynaud’s can start out by causing one or more toes to turn white. As the attack passes, blood flow improves, the blanching fades, and color begins to return. The affected toes turn purplish-blue or red before turning back to their natural skin color.
- An attack can actually hurt. It’s not just that your toes turn some funky colors. The lack of blood flow, and then the flow of blood back into the relaxed vessels, can be really painful.
If you have Raynaud’s, it’s probably a nuisance. But if you find it truly interferes with your life, call us at (703) 996-3000 or make an appointment online. Our board-certified podiatrist, Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm, can prescribe medications that help.