What Are the Treatments for Raynaud’s Disease?
Raynaud’s disease causes parts of the body, usually the tips of the ears, nose, fingers and toes, to become numb , disproportionately cold and resistant to warming up in response to cold temperatures or stress. This is caused by narrowing arteries responsible for circulation to the skin. Typically, Raynaud’s disease is no more than a slight annoyance, but severe cases can require treatment.
Diagnosis of Raynaud’s disease is based on a patient’s detailed account of symptoms. Other causes for symptoms will have to be ruled out, and a cold-simulation test (placing hands in cold water or directly exposing the patient to cold air) may be performed.
Some medications are prescribed to treat severe symptoms with Raynaud’s disease. Generally, calcium channel blockers, alpha blockers or vasodilators are used to widen blood vessels.
Certain drugs can aggravate the symptoms of Raynaud’s disease, and sometimes stopping their use can greatly improve a patient’s condition. Over-the-counter cold medicines, birth control pills and beta blockers fall into this category.
The sympathetic nerves that control the restriction of blood vessels to the hands and feet can be removed. This is known as a sympathectomy, and can be successful at reducing the frequency and duration of symptoms.
Chemical injections can be used to stop sympathetic nerve activity. This treatment for Raynaud’s disease is rarely permanent, and often has to be performed repeatedly for ongoing symptom relief.