Acute Blue Finger

Acute Blue Finger

Hi all,

I would like to ask if anyone had any experience with an 'accute blue finger syndrome'?

The effect is very much like that of Raynauds (spasm of the small blood vessels causing restriction of blood flow / numbness / burning pain), but this only affects one single finger, the finger turns blue instead of white, and the event is not necessarily triggered by cold. The finger is hyper-sensitive.

The first episode in the little finger on my left hand lasted about 6-8 weeks and caused me a lot of pain. If I accidentally bumped my finger pain shot like a lightning bolt up my entire arm. Several times I woke up during the night from the intolerable pain, which didn't show any reaction to painkillers.

Next to the nail I developed necrotic tissue which later fell off (Jeeeez!).

Even when the wound and finger finally healed it was still sensitive and I could still feel the trauma the finger had been through for a while.

I am experiencing episode #2 on my ring finger (right hand) which appeared middle of March. After showing Raynaud's-like symptoms (white fingertip, numbness) and also increased sensitivity (not a Raynauds symptom) I suddenly was in so much pain one evening that I didn't know what to do with myself and I eventually took myself to A&E! (pointless, as the hospital didn't even have vascular services and as the pain fairly suddenly disappeared as if someone had flicked a switch).

Earlier on the finger looked thin and drawn with creases down the fingertips. Some days later the fnger was warm, pulsating and swollen, the fingerprint lines have almost disappeared due to the swelling and the skin feels too tight and pulls away from the fingernail when I stretch my finger. I assume the latter might have indeed happenend and caused a small tear, as I have developed a small wound under my nail which looks almost as if I have to expect some necrotic tissue again (damn!)

The finger is swollen and stiff - I can't bend the last digit at all and I can't straighten the finger which makes everyday tasks heaps of fun.

Meanwhile I started to notice the potentially first symptoms (increased Raynauds white fingertips, burning sensitivity in the finger) in the middle finger of my left (!) hand!

Eeek!

I have had a series of tests done at the vascular surgery department at UCLH London, including a Doppler ultrasound test of the arteries in my arms and neck, as well as a CT scan.

Doctors couldn't find anything wrong and I was discharged from any further testing. I am now awaiting for a referral to a rheumatologist for further tests. But essentially they are telling me that the tests being done are for the purpose of excluding certain things but that we are not under the illusion to find the actual cause and treat / heal it.

There is some information available on the internet, although it is pretty clear that the 'acute blue finger' (as was diagnosed by Prof. Toby Richards at UCLH, who also wrote a scientific paper about the symptom) is a rather rare occurrence, as opposed to Raynaud's which is fairly common. Most articles describe the disease as a benign condition (for me or for my finger??) which heals by itself (it doesn't state how many weeks it takes and rules out the possibility of necrotic tissue loss).

I have also been diagnosed by a dermatologist with a patch of morphea (scleroderma?) on my back, which is an overproduction of collagen which causes thickening of the skin. I have reason to believe that there might be a connection between the two.

My best hope is now to look for anyone having had any experience with this and discussion forums like this. Any help welcome!

​Thanks :)

8 Replies

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  • I had a similar looking problem (a purple thumb!) before scleroderma was diagnosed, though it was not acutely painful.

    The GP gave me antibiotics, and it settled within a week. Fortunately I have not had a recurrence.

    Good luck with your fingers.

  • Thank you. At least it sounds they had a diagnosis for you very quickly?

    Part of my frustration is that I meanwhile seem to know more about it then any of the doctors I am seeing... :/

  • Had very similar but all my fingers were blue then two fingers started to go black and split at the top...had to go into hospital for infusions for three days to prevent gangrene setting in. Although, in the cold, they still go blue..not had any recurrence of the black thank goodness. Not had the extreme pain like you experienced just swelling and numbness ..but sounds like nerves were affected in your case?...I have Systemic Sclerosis so my symptoms of secondary Raynauds is part and parcel of this illness. But, good luck going forward for you pet.

  • OMG that sounds insane! I can't believe you didn't get any pain with this!?!

    Thank you for your reply. Sounds like there's a whole variety of fun things out there! :(

  • I started off like this with the middle finger on my left hand. Like you , the pain was unbearable and my finger was dead but still extremely sensitive to touch and freezing cold.

    This lasted for several months before any sensation returned and although over two years ago, I still don't have the same strength or feeling that I previously had.

    Since then I have been diagnosed with limited scleroderma and now I only get Raynauds symptoms but these are pretty well managed with nifedipine, losartan and sildenafil.

    I really sympathise with you as the thought of the pain I had with this blue finger was so extreme.

    I wish you all the best and that you get some relief from your symptoms.

  • Thank you for your response. That sounds quite similar indeed! Happy to hear you didn't have any re-occurrences since! :)

  • Thank you for your responses so far. Although slightly different, there are certainly some similarities and it sounds like I might possibly have to expect a diagnosis of scleroderma.

    I'm particularly frustrated as now both hands are affected and it impacts on my everyday life... Let's hope they don't take forever to make some kind of diagnosis so at least we have something to treat.

  • Brief update...

    On Monday I finally saw a rheumatologist and got a diagnosis: scleroderma!

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