Raynaud’s Phenomenon

The winter is well and truly upon us with the evenings drawing in and the mornings feeling markedly cooler.  It was this change in temperature that prompted this blog about a foot condition that we will start seeing more readily in clinic as Winter’s grasp takes hold.  The condition we are referring to is something called Raynaud’s phenomenon which can lead onto chilblains.

Raynaud’s Phenomenon is, for the most part, a benign disorder affecting both the hands and feet but can in severe cases cause substantial discomfort.  It affects about 10 % of the population and is seen as a primary condition or as a secondary condition to autoimmune diseases.  Our blood vessels dilate and constrict to regulate body temperature, in Raynaud’s extreme cold temperatures can cause the small vessels of the fingers and toes to constrict and go into spasm meaning blood is unable to get to the affected areas.  This can result in the tips of the fingers and toes becoming white and then blue and then red again as the blood flow returns.  In most cases this restriction is not severe enough to cause death of the tissues but in the worst cases pain is felt and lesions can form due to cell death.

There are a number of treatments that can be applied to the skin, as well as systemic drugs that can be useful in extreme cases.  The best preventative measures to prevent Raynaud’s phenomenon would be to keep the extremities warm in the cold months and to avoid extreme temperature changes.  For example, it would be a bad idea to come in directly from the cold and immediately warm the feet at a blazing heater or fire.

Top tip: If you think you suffer from raynauds phenomenon or chilblains then wear natural fibre socks and thick soles insulating shoes. Keep your core warm and layer up. Avoid cold tiled floors. Ask your foot specialist/chiropodist about special creams called rubifacients which may also help.

For any queries or further advice on Raynaud’s Phenomenon please feel free to contact us for an appointment.

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