Raynaud’s phenomenon is a sudden, temporary narrowing of arteries in the hand and rarely, in the feet. The narrowing is caused by a muscle spasm in the artery walls. The narrowing reduces the blood supply to the fingers or legs, and therefore their color becomes pale.

There re two types of this phenomenon: primary and secondary. Primary Raynaud’s is more common and is not caused by another condition. Secondary Raynaud’s is less common, it is more serious and develops due to an existing condition.

It is more frequent in women, between 15 and 45 years of age and people who live in colder climates.



The symptoms of Raynaud’s phenomenon occur on palms and feet and can last for a few minutes to several hours. The symptoms are:

  • loss of sensation in the fingers or toes which can get worse and develop into painful feeling, like pricking
  • Progressive change in color of the fingers and toes caused by cold or stress, which first turn pale, then blue, and when there is blood flow again, become red
  • ulcerations on the fingers or toes in severe cases
  • gangrene in severe cases



The cause of Raynaud’s phenomenon is not quite known. Doctors found out that this phenomenon of blood vessel spasm is triggered by cold or stress.

Other causes for secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon are:

  • autoimmune diseases, in half of the cases like sclerodermia, rheumatoid arthritis, Buerger’s disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, lupus, all of which can be inherited
  • artery diseases, like atherosclerosis, pulmonary hypertension
  • vibration syndrome of the hand or the palm in some persons
  • certain medications, like beta-blockers
  • smoking
  • injuries
  • carpal tunnel syndrome


Risk Factors

The risk factors are Raynaud’s phenomenon include:

  • smoking
  • exposure to cold
  • age, depending on the cause
  • gender
  • family history
  • existing medical condition



The complications of Raynaud’s phenomenon are:

  • deformities of the fingers and toes due to insufficient blood supply
  • ulcerations
  • gangrene  



To prevent Raynaud’s phenomenon you can:

  • wear warm clothes
  • keep warm temperature indoors
  • drive in pre-heated car
  • relocation of your home to warmer climate, if possible