Unsure whether I have Raynaud's or just bad circulation?

Hi there, I just have a quick query. I have experienced extremely cold fingers and toes before, and the symptoms have come back again this winter. They get really cold and tend to go numb, and then sometimes start to ache and cause me pain, not excruciating just very distracting. I've looked up the symptoms of Raynaud's and my mum has suggested that I may have had it before now as the symptoms persisted. I do tend to get some colour change, although not as extreme as in photographs I have seen and more on my fingers.

I was simply wondering if I should be considering Raynaud's or just put it down to bad circulation?

Cheers,

Maddie.

9 Replies

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  • Hi Maddie, well it could be either.

    My Raynaud's is predominantly located in my feet although I do have it in my hands too. Do they go through the three stages?

    First Stage:

    When exposed to cold temperatures, the blood supply to feet and toes, is markedly reduced; the skin turns pale or white (called pallor), and becomes cold and numb.

    Second Stage:

    When the oxygen supply is depleted, the skin colour turns blue (called cyanosis). During this phase the feet feel cold and numb.

    Third Stage:

    These events are episodic, and when the episode subsides or the area is warmed, the blood flow returns at a higher rate than normal and the skin colour first turns red (rubor), and then back to normal, often accompanied by swelling, tingling, and a painful "pins and needles" sensation. Like walking on shards of glass. Regardless it is like walking on cobblestones. There may also be swelling in the feet.

    This is a quote from the RSA ...

    "In this condition, the blood supply to the extremities, usually the fingers and toes but sometimes also the ears and nose, is interrupted. During an attack they become first white and dead looking. They may then turn blue and finally red and burning when the blood flow is restored. There may be considerable pain, numbness or tingling. These symptoms are due to an intermittent lack of blood in the affected parts when the arteries normally supplying them spasmodically contract. An attack will often be triggered by touching cold objects or exposure to cold of any kind."

    RSA is a fantastic website.... raynauds.org.uk/raynauds/ra...

  • Thanks for replying!!

    I experience the second and third phases, however I never seem to notice the second, not as extreme as to see them go blue. It may possibly be just bad circulation, it's just more of a pain at the moment as I'm trying to write essays extra...doing that with numb fingers is rather frustrating!

  • Sometimes just writing alot can cause the circulation in your fingers to be less. Try doing some finger stretches and shake your hands around intermitently while you are doing your writing. I used to set a timer when mine first started and I had a job that required me to type alot. You get so wrapped up in what you are doing that you don't stop until your fingers go numb. Set a timer for like every 10 minutes or so, it depends on you really. Stop shake your hands and stretch your fingers out as wide as you can. See if this helps, if not then it is probably Raynaud's and you can try fingerless gloves to keep your hands warm! Hope this helps.

  • i wonder about diagnosis too: I've been told by doctors (including specialists) that i have raynauds, and had it all my life. but as far as i know, no specific blood tests have been done to confirm this diagnosis. the label raynauds seems to be based on symptoms?

    i too have had what i'd have called bad circulation all my life from as early as i can remember, including really bad weeping chilblains on my toes and fingers. as an adult i began to get pulp lesions on my fingers, and a tendency to sores at the corners of my big toenails. at perimenopause the 3 stages cardiff lady describes became much more distinct/obvious in my feet and hands (although all my life i'd gone very white and my lips had always gone blue) and more troublesome

    a rheumy tried me on a vasodilator a few years ago, which made me really unwell: aggravating all my raynauds-like symptoms and also other symptoms that had been troubling me for years. then another rheumy discovered i'd actually had relapsing and remitting progressive systemic lupus all my life, so my raynauds was secondary to that and this is why standard raynauds treatment (the vasodilator) didn't help me. instead i started 400mg plaquenil daily 18 months ago, which has slightly taken the edge of my raynauds symptoms, but those 3 stages still are troublesome to me. here i am, having had a very active life, nearly 60 and trying to do the best i can, but feeling very very lame and limited...i joke that if i walked on my hands, they'd be as bad as my feet which now suffer also from mortons neuromas and bursae

    meanwhile, i still wonder about diagnosis: do i really have secondary raynauds, or maybe erythromelalgia or what. my specialists don't seem very interested in refining this aspect of diagnosis....my rheumy says that will only be necessary if the colours (the white phase or the blue phase or the red phase do not move in a cycle: if either phase seems to be more of less permanent, she says that's when we'll need to look more closely at exactly what's going on with me). but i try not to dwell on the question of diagnosis, or worry unduly, as i cope day to day and on and on. and i do everything i can to lifestyle manage my conditions: the clothing, the antiinflammation diet and supplements, hygiene, etc etc: at least this makes me feel as if i'm doing the best i can. i just wish i had started this stuff when i was much younger...maybe if i had i wouldn't be quite so disabled now. but who knows

    i agree with cardifflady: RSA is a fantastic website (and cardifgflady has done a great job of summarising the 3 stages of raynauds!)

    take care

  • Hiya my hands generally look dead, i was diagnosed my GP who took what look at my hands and said i have raynauds, sent me for a blood test which confirmed this. So i would see your GP. Also i agree with the previous coments, to look at the RSA website.

  • Thank you for all your answers, I've booked to see my GP tomorrow, so hopefully they'll give me some answers, and hopefully it''s not too serious!

    Many thanks,

    Maddie

  • Whatever it is, Maddie, there is good advice here. I thoroughly recommend fingerless gloves, used indoors. I have a knitting pattern I got from RSA for mitts which I have made and also adapted to make fingerless gloves.

    Another thing which may help you is wrist bands. These are just a warm tubes which goes over the wrists and seem to keep the blood a bit warmer as it goes to the fingers. Mine are simple knitted ones. (You will gather I can knit!).

  • Hello, I have some fingerless type gloves - cashmere from M&S last year. They have been made from a knitted square, but are about 10 inches long and cover my lower arm, hands and fingers to the first nuckles. There is a slit in the seam for the thumb. I find them better than the fingerless gloves as I can just pull out my thumb and turn them back when I need too, rather than having to take the gloves right off. They would be very easy to knit.

  • There is no test which can tell you whether or not you have Raynaud's as a diagnosis is given purely on the patient's symptoms and history. Raynaud's can be very mild or severe. If it is interfering with your daily life then see your GP who may prescribe medication or you could try some of the many and varied heating aids and garments - no doubt you have already tried some. Visit raynauds.org.uk and look at the range of heating aids available on the online shop. Just something there may help you.

    If your Raynaud's becomes more severe then do ask for an ANA (anti nuclear antibody) blood test. This will not tell you that you have Raynaud's but can help to confirm or eliminate if there is any underlying condition which is causing it.

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