Raynaud's phenomenon 

Introduction 

In Raynaud's the blood flow to the hands is restricted, which makes the fingers cold and white 

Who gets Raynaud’s?

Raynaud’s phenomenon is a common condition. It affects up to 20% of the adult population worldwide. (It is hard to be entirely sure as rates can differ widely from area to area depending on how cold the temperature is). There may be as many as 10 million people with the condition in the UK.

Primary Raynaud’s usually begins in your 20s or 30s. Secondary Raynaud’s can develop at any age depending on the underlying condition it is associated with.

Raynaud's is slightly more common in women than men.

Raynaud’s phenomenon is a common condition that affects the blood supply to certain parts of the body, usually the fingers and toes.

It is often also referred to as Raynaud’s syndrome, Raynaud’s disease or just Raynaud's.

Why does it happen?

The condition occurs because your blood vessels go into a temporary spasm which blocks the flow of blood. This causes the affected area to change colour to white, then blue and then red as the blood flow returns.

Raynaud’s is usually triggered by cold temperatures or by anxiety or stress.

You may also experience pain, numbness and pins and needles in the affected body parts. Symptoms can last from a few minutes to several hours.

It is not a serious threat to your health but can be annoying to live with because it makes fine movements of the fingers difficult. People with Raynaud’s often go for long periods without any symptoms and sometimes the condition goes away altogether.

Read more about the symptoms of Raynaud’s.

Treatment

In many cases it may be possible to control the symptoms of Raynaud’s yourself by avoiding the cold, wearing gloves and using relaxation techniques when feeling stressed.

Stopping smoking can also help improve symptoms, as smoking can affect your circulation.

If you are unable to control your symptoms yourself, then a medication called nifedipine may be recommended.

Read more about the treating Raynaud’s.

Types of Raynaud's

There are two types of Raynaud's. These are:

  • primary – when the condition develops by itself (this is the most common type)
  • secondary – when it develops in association with another health condition

Most cases of secondary Raynaud’s are associated with conditions that cause the immune system to attack healthy tissue (autoimmune conditions), such as:

  • rheumatoid arthritis: when the immune system attacks the joints causing pain and swelling
  • lupus: when the immune system attacks many different parts of the body causing a range of symptoms, such as tiredness, joint pain and skin rashes

The causes of primary Raynaud’s are unclear. However one in 10 people with primary Raynaud’s will go on to develop a condition associated with secondary Raynaud’s, such as lupus.

Your GP can help to determine whether you have primary or secondary Raynaud's by examining your symptoms and carrying out blood tests.

Read more about what causes Raynaud’s and diagnosing Raynaud's.

Possible complications

Secondary Raynaud’s can cause a more severe restriction of blood supply so it does carry a higher risk of causing complications such as ulcers, scarring and even tissue death (gangrene) in the most serious cases. However, severe complications are rare.

Read more about the complications of Raynaud’s.




Page last reviewed: 11/01/2013

Next review due: 11/01/2015

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The 34 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

srfblue said on 11 February 2014

If you're suffering with this horrible condition may i suggest you try Ginkgo Biloba Tea (first seek advice from a med professional if you wish to do so) After drinking Ginkgo on a daily basis i noticed that my symptoms were drastically reduced.

Thanks to the local herbalist that suggested I go on a trial, no longer do i suffer with the severe effects of Raynauds...

I can't promise that it'll get rid of the pain & numbness in the hands - but theres a possibility that it'll reduce levels of severity + the changing color of hands (as it did for me)

- btw, I'm no health professional but I am a person who knows what it feels like to be left in the dark ue to the NHS's lack of understanding - before I forget to mention, Gingko is a natural substance, which does not contain any of the synthetic BS That they're feeding into our system

if yore fed-up w/ having to put up w/ severe raynaud's Suggest this treatment method to a health pro or go online and do some reasearch

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18pminus said on 23 January 2014

Yes, I too suffer from the Raynauds but this seems to effect me more on my life side: due to a lack of circulation
or restricted blood flow to the left side on my left side:

This often causes me to drop things or be unable
to open bottles such as milk. Sometimes.

I even have to stop what I am doing: so my brother and my mother invested in some special gloves

there called ' sealskin' but are synthetic and since wearing them the systems have greatly improved the downside is they are expensive but worth it.

Also a hot cup of tea helps a little and those microwavable teddies.

I have been a little annoyed at the poor lack of circulation in my hands: but now I know that I am not the only one makes me feel better.

However, I have started noticed a light numbness in my left leg and my knee joint is clicking when I walk up the stairs I know I have a trapped nerve which I can feel
but I do wonder. Should I been worried. Also I can click my left leg. Too make a loud clunking sound.

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Gilbert from Dorset said on 09 January 2014

I have experienced classic white finger symptons for some years - always coming on when the weather is cold e.g when driving first thing in the morning in an unheated car.

I am currently using emu balm (which has alleviated osteo arthritis symptons in my fingers very well) and to my great pleasure has almost entirely relieved myRaynaud's symptoms as well.

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becks1989 said on 10 December 2013

I was diagnosed with Reynauds 7 years ago and have struggled with keeping my hands and feet warm. I regularly wear 2 pairs of gloves & will still have cold hands. I have a Zippo hand warmer which is very good. It uses lighter fluid & regularly lasts over 12 hours once lit.
My sister recently bought me some insoles made from plastazote which actually do insulate my shoes and keep my feet warm. I was very skeptical at first but after using them I would most definitely recommend them to anyone suffering with Reynauds. The company is called innersoles 4 u. They are currently looking at creating gloves from this material too.

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Scarysas said on 22 October 2013

I was diagnosed with Raynauds last year when it started in my hands. I realised I have had it since I was a child in my feet, I used to ride horses & I had great dificulty getting off them in the cold because of the pain in my feet. I never realised that I had a recognised condition & alwasy suffered in silence. As yet I havent found anything that helps my feet apart from a good pair of socks & decent shoes, as long as I am on the move I have few problems but sitting in the cold soon turns them to ice. I have tried may types of gloves & the best are ones that are loose fitting, to allow what little circulation I have work, also I have silk glove liners which help that I use with mitten ski gloves. Mittens are much warmer than any gloves. Also I have invested in a hand warmer, best types are the ones where you light a charcoal stick (not great for kids as they get very hot & will burn you if opened) They are not expensive & half a stick lasts for a full football match & more......it gets borrowed a lot on cold match days. Hope this info helps a fellow sufferer

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annefletch said on 09 April 2013

a relative has raynauds. she also has overactive thyroid ( hyperthyroidism ) which her consutant says are poss. linked , ie if you have one auto immune disease, there's increased chance of developing another. If anyone has symptoms of this eg weight loss, diarrhoea, palpitations, maybe you should see your gp for a blood test?I noticed a couple of bloggers said they' d lost weight. hope this helps.

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Graham Brand said on 19 February 2013

I am male 55 and have had Raynaud's for 7-8 years. As a Type 1 diabetic for the last 27 years and a smoker I assumed that either or both of these were the cause. It has got worse each year - my hands and feet are most affected and become very painful very quickly in cold weather but this year I have been getting painfully cold throughout my body.

Apart from the smoking I have a healthy lifestyle - very good diet, I still weight lift to a reasonable standard (I used to compete), I walk 10-15 miles per week, and I am in good shape for my age.

My hands are an embarrassment - they sometimes look OK but other times they are red and/or look like those of a corpse.

I experiment with various things to improve my wellbeing and a few weeks ago started eating more tomatoes (which I have always eaten as a heathy food) as these are believed to reduce heart and circulation problems. Funny but I felt a lot worse and developed several odd symptoms. I became fatigued and lost strength. Having identified certain food intolerances years before, I decided to eliminate tomatoes entirely from my diet 7 days ago.

The odd symptoms I was having have disappeared, I feel great but the most surprising thing for me is that the Raynaud's symptoms and cold sensitivity have disappeared! As final proof that (for me) the tomatoes were the cause of aggravating the condition I did an hour of gardening this morning when the temperature was 1 degree C - I then went for a 3 mile walk without gloves and hands outside my pockets - no symptoms at all! A week ago I could not do more than 10 minutes gardening in warmer temperatures than today and that was very painful.

So, I am convinced that food intolerance or food allergy can cause or aggravate Raynaud's and cold sensitivity. Sufferers may therefore want to explore this as a possible cause for their condition. It can be quite difficult to identify the offending food but in my experience the effort has been very worthwhile.

Good luck!

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ncadin said on 22 January 2013

i have had raynuaud from as far bk as i can remember as a kid i am now 26 only got dignosed a few years ago am constintly cold lose felling in fingers and go blue from hand to have way up arm lose fealling in feet and they go blue to as well as my knees and face sum times get it aswell
have to go to bed with jumpers and gloves and socks and still wake up cold pepole tell me there seen more couler in a dead boday wich really bugs me
is there eny help out there with heating and worm cloths couse it dosent matter wot kind of boats and worm cloths a were

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Becca 1995 said on 20 January 2013

I'm 17 years old I was told I had raynaud's when I was about 2 or 3 as I have got older its really stayed the same my hands and feet don't really change colour but I do get really bad pains that last for about 2/5 hours I normally just take some paracetamol which helps but lately the pains have been getting worst and feel like they re traveling up my arm and in to my shoulder... Is this normal?

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dearp said on 13 January 2013

Hi im 12 and i have had these symptoms for quiet a long time i noticed my toes starting to become swollen and and change from white to blue to red when i was warmer i have some pains and im not sure if it was normal for my age my mum said everyone has cold feet and my Gp asked me if i had sickle cell which i don't is it usual for 12






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madiison said on 17 July 2012

I never realised how many people had this. Jeez. Makes me feel better :) I am 16 and currently typing on a computer at school as my hand start to go purple. I've had this since I was about 12, and I still get embarrased. I've taken to wearing fingerless gloves all the time - well except for now because my hands were getting too hot and no ones in the room. People will think its a fashion statement but nope, I just don't want people to see my hands. My feet are much worse than my hands but since I'm always wearing socks I forget about them.
When I started getting raynauds disease I also developed other problems with body. Only recently I've found out I have a food intolerance and that these problems were caused by it but I'm not sure which one it is yet. I'm thinking its dairy and gluten intolerance, and I read the other day that a symptom of gluten intolerance can be circulatory problems. Anyone know if this is the case, and if so, if I start eating gluten free will my raynauds disease go away?

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ffd said on 27 April 2012

My mum has always told me I was born with purple feet and I have had purple feet for as long as I can remember, (I'm 22) even in summer my feet look like they belong to a corpse! They are constantly freezing cold to the touch and look purple/black, if it is particularly cold my toes turn white and go numb. I too have suffered from painful chilblains every winter for the whole of my life. (good tip is to drag your feet along the carpet to relive itchiness!) The only thing to help my toes when they go white is if I submerge my feet in hot water and/or take nifedipine. I am on 5mg at the moment, and it really seems to work, although it does make me feel really flushed, but anything to avoid losing a toe! I would recommend it to anyone suffering with raynauds. I am so jealous of people with normal coloured feet, I never wear sandals even in summer and have had to explain the colour of my feet to so many people that I am no longer even embarrassed! I feel your pain

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Chrissomerville said on 14 April 2012

Message for comment id 19954
Alexandervander
Since you do not have the symptom of white fingers
consider rather than Raynauds you could have erythromelalgia
Sometimes these occur together. You can find information on line.

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Yuwaye Shuto said on 31 March 2012

hi i am 17 yr old girl in aust and i have had raynaud's secondary disease since i was born but didn't know that what it was till i was in grade 3 because here they really don't know alot about it...so for years i didn't even have a name for it. what is exrememly rare about my case is the fact that i have it in both my hands and feet and that my sister has it too...the only treatment i have at the moment is to take a magnesium consentrate tablet every night and day.unfortunatly where i live it gets pretty cold and i haven't really had the chance to have a proper social life except for when it is warm.... can anybody help me to treat my symptoms maybe suggest any way to allieviate the symptoms any help would be grateful....thankyou

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spiderlegs said on 22 February 2012

i have had raynauds for many years had feel warm but to many people hand stone cold mine go from red to white blue i use heated cloves and use warm pads also belone to the Raynauds and scleroderma Association

www.raynauds.org.uk

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loz_27 said on 16 December 2011

When I was 14 I was diagnosed with raynauds. I'm now 16, and each year is getting worse. Not only my hands and feet but my knees, elbows and sometimes my legs suffer quite bad. Its affects me everyday and ruins alot of plans. The pain is unexplainable and goes on for hours after I return inside. Sometimes I have to use crutches because of it. I was wondering if there's another medicine besides nifedepin I can take? Thanks

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Alexandervander said on 25 November 2011

I have been getting pains in my hands and feet since I was a little boy. I have been to countless doctors, who all never knew what was wrong with me. From the picture it looks like I do not have Raynauds disease, but from the description it sounds like I do.

I have been to my G.P recently and he said that the aches and pains and due to my mental state, I have depression. I notice before I get the burning/tingling sensation in my hands and feet, they do change colour, and always end up red, splotchy and swollen. It is a really uncomfortable feeling, and can last a long time. Keeping my legs moving does tend to help, and taking a paracutamol. It is embarrasing to say, but some times I get the same burning sensation in my groin area too. I belive I could have Raynauds, and Im going to see my G.P about it on Monday.

Luckily I found out about this site because I couldnt take not knowing what is wrong with me anymore, and phoned NHS Direct. The people I spoke to where very helpfull, and I feel a lot better now with some direction. Thank You for all Your help, I hope this leads to me becoming a healthier individual.

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songofserenity said on 18 November 2011

I've now been told I have Raynauds, I'm 39 a mum and carer. Ive been getting symptoms for the last 12 months, my fingers on both hands go bone white and numb and unless I try and warm them up will stay that way for upto 30 minutes. The quickest way I have found of getting blood flowing properly again is filling a sink full of hot water and then putting rubber gloves on before submerging my hands in the gloves into the hot water, t can still take up to 5 minutes for the fingers to return to a healthy pink colour but at least then they dont hurt and I can undertake normal activities again.I know it affects my feet as well but I dont take my shoes and socks of to check them.
The doc and I think its my weight loss that has contributed to symptoms developing,losing 10 stone of extra insulation has meant I now feel symptoms that may previously have been masked by the extra layers of fat. I'm worried about taking the Nefidapine because another effect of the weight loss is my BP being round the 110/68 mark and I'm concerned that the Nefidipine(as a drug also used to treat high blood pressure) will make mine lower further than it already is.

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EllieRose93 said on 03 August 2011

Hi Meg jayne, unfortunately this appears to be a disease that those who have it just have to try live with. I was diagnosed with Raynaurds at 13 and to be honest each winter it seems to get just a little bit worse.
One of the most annoying things is every time you go to the drs or to see a professor about it they constantly tell you to wear gloves and stay warm, as if we don't try to do that already!
By the way ask for a blood test because if it's secondary Raynaurds they can pick it up in your results :). Ive also been prescribed nifedipine but it didn't have any effect for me and actually made me very nauseous. However I've heard good things about it so I'd suggest asking to give it a go.
As for the boys lord knows I stressed out about that too, but if theyre worth it then they won't care :) sounds cheesy I know. Also I'd advise trying to make a joke out of it, helped me relax around guys as it didn't seem to bother them when I joked about it.
Just finished my a levels and the only thing I can suggest is getting permission to wait inside before going into exams, as when they got cold my fingers take quite a while to heat up and time is obviously very precious in exams. Another thing, the professor I see every month or so (due to suspected secondary raynaurds) has suggested several times going to see a councillor. At first I was a bit surprised as I don't have any huge issues in my life but actually talking about all the little stuff did help releave some of my stress, making my raynaurds a little less severe :) you can get councilling through the NHS so it wouldn't cost a penny.
Anyway, good luck and if you have any more questions post them on here and I'll get back to you, hope thise helped :) Ellie.

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meg jayne said on 18 July 2011

I am 15 and have just been diagnosed with Primary Raynauds and am awaiting blood test results to see if there is a possibility of me having Secondary Raynauds. It's frustrating as I have had some symptoms such as constantly very cold hands and feet for nearly 2 years and more recently my fingers and toes have turned very white and tingly due to a small change of temperature. As I am reasonably young and have had numerous medical problems the best advice I was given was to wear gloves and socks when my hands are cold. The problem is, only in very very warm conditions and when I have been sitting on my hands for about half an hour are my hands warm/ normal temperature. Am I supposed to wear gloves forever?
Raynauds hasn't seemed to affect my life that much yet but it is embarrassing having to explain to boys why my hands are so cold... I was wondering, anyone have any advice on the keeping the stress levels down. I've realised that my hands get worse when I'm stressed (stress has been linked to Raynauds) and what with my A-levels coming up next year I could do with some tips. Any tips would be really helpful

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venusianqueen said on 27 May 2011

I've had Raynaud's since I was about 14 (I'm now 23). It affects both my hands and feet, with the typical colour changes, and my fingernails are typically always blue. It has progressed massively over the years, going from just being cold, to extreme pain and difficulty manipulating things. I find it's brought on by stress as well as the cold. I too struggle in the supermarket and avoid the fridge/freezer departments!
I tried ginkgo biloba but found it ineffective. What are people's experiences with Nifedipine?
I see other people mention that they get weakness and pain in their arms. I'm finding I'm getting that too over the last year. My left arm sometimes feels like I've got a tourniquet around my elbow.
The cold is getting so bad now that my ankles become freezing too, and I ache all over because I find I tense up - ribs are the worst!
I've also experienced the dizziness and vertigo (and also tinnitis). I was prescribed medication for Meniere's disease, but I can't help but wonder if there's some connection if others are experiencing it too?
I can't gain weight, I'm built like wire coathangers, and I wonder if this is because my metabolism has increased as my body's trying to keep me warm. I dunno.
All I can say is no one understands the condition unless they have it. I'm the girl in the nightclub with a jacket and gloves hidden in my bag. I feel 80 when I'm only 23. It saddens me to know that I'm stuck with it

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doray said on 26 April 2011

I have suffered with Raynard's since I was 18 yrs old. However, when I fell down because I couln#t feel my feet one day in 1978, my husband took me to a consultant in Harley Street .I was duly operated on and had a Lumbar sypmathectomy which gave me 20yrs of godd active life without pain. Unfortunatley it has slowly returned .but you learn to live with it . Hope this can help anyone out there

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cubalibra said on 17 March 2011

my mrs has just been diagnosed with raynauds disease
she is also a celiac and has osteopinia with her problems compounding is there help available and does anyone know whether you can claim disability allowance or mobility ect

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k4thybrown said on 04 March 2011

Interesting. I came to look on here as my Raynaud's has been getting worse - used to be just one or two fingertips. Now both hands/nearly the whole fingers. And some pain too. It's got to the point where shopping in Sainsbury's is a trial - the air temp is cool and the chilled section always makes me numb. Toes too. Haven't been to the doctor yet, I thought it was 'just one of those things'. I am particularly interested in others mentioning low blood pressure and dizziness on rising. I have that too.

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k4thybrown said on 04 March 2011

Interesting. I came to look on here as my Raynaud's has been getting worse - used to be just one or two fingertips. Now both hands/nearly the whole fingers. And some pain too. It's got to the point where shopping in Sainsbury's is a trial - the air temp is cool and the chilled section always makes me numb. Toes too. Haven't been to the doctor yet, I thought it was 'just one of those things'. I am particularly interested in others mentioning low blood pressure and dizziness on rising. I have that too.

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enilorac said on 19 February 2011

@ carolinewilliams5 said on 10 February 2010
My fingers go exactly the same as your daughters.
They also go hot where they swell & the fingers feel like they could burst if you sick a pin in them.
I also get the same feeling in some toes & also in some places under my feet but I do have arthritis in my neck which cause pins & needles down my spine,arms & legs. I am waiting for the results of the teasts I had to go through a couple of weeks ago with a Rhuematologist.

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Tanya32 said on 07 December 2010

I was Diagnosed with Raynauds a couple of years ago and was put on Nifedipine but with me its not the cold that triggers it things like standing up and just getting out of bed I have attacks just about everyday and sometime up to for times a day but it never affects both my hands at the same time its either1 or 2 fingers on 1 hand or sometimes all my fingers I have notice recently its becoming more and more frequent and starting to affect parts of me that I did not think would be affected but the 1 that's been warring me is now its only happened twice about a month ago and yesterday can anyone tell me if they have ever had Raynauds affect their tongue I have never heard of it doing it I only knew cos my tongue felt a little strange and when I had a look in the mirror about a CM at the end of my tongue was white can anyone please help me with this also my attacks have started lasting a lot longer than normal

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Peeblesshire said on 12 November 2010

I wonder if any association is known of (or suspected) between Raynaud syndrome with sarcoidosis?

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robeeert said on 21 October 2010

I suffer from raynauds disease, in the middle of summer I often have to put the heater on. could I claim an extra heating allowance. ?

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SweetChili said on 11 March 2010

Raynauds can appear on it's own (primary) but can also indicate more serious problems such as Rheumatoid athritis, Fibromyalgia or worse..Scleroderma! you should always push your doctor to see a specialist (Rheumatologist) if you are having other symptoms too!

I have Raynauds as well as severe 'systemic' (internal organ) problems, I also have Fibromyalgia.

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unknown2010 said on 17 February 2010

I have just been diagnosed with Raynaud's I too had sweats in the night and symptoms of vertigo last week on rising and was concerned about low blood pressure as I had a feeling that I was going to pass out. But when I visited my doctor was told that this due to a virus. I have also been experiencing weakness in my left arm and some pain. I would be very interested to hear how you get on

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carolinewilliams5 said on 10 February 2010

my daughter suffers with some of these symptoms but the last couple of days the ends of her fingers are going purle/black can some one let me know if that happens with raynaud's ,i,m waiting for a gp appointment to have her tested for it thanks xx

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mijoch01 said on 05 January 2010

Whilst I suffer the same affects as anyone with RP I am more interested in how it comes about.
I have always felt that a link exists with the autonomic nervous system and this system is somehow compromised.
I also have been found to have low blood pressure eg 100/60mmhg on numerous occassions which without warning can jump to as high as 180/100.
Night sweats that can soak the bed, vertigo on rising,
mood swings, and have suffered manic depression which fortunately I overcame or it resolved itself a good few years ago. I would like to help research this problem .Can you help direct me to this end?

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neptune said on 01 December 2009

I have just been diagnosed with Raynaud but also have some other symptoms that are of concern. I have significant weakness in my right arm, constant fatigue and spells of dizziness, as well as extremely cold hands feet and area under my nose, hands turn red white and blue. When they turn white they are the most painful, my feet also turn white and can be very painful.
I am wondering if any of these can be related to secondry Raynauds, my GP has referred me to a neurologist which I see in January 2010.

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