Raynaud's phenomenon is the result of over-sensitive blood vessels in the body's extremities. In many cases, no cause is identified, although it's sometimes linked to other health conditions.
When your body is exposed to cold temperatures, the extremities, such as your fingers and toes, lose heat. This is because the small blood vessels under the skin spasm, slowing down the blood supply that is helping to preserve your body's core temperature.
In people with Raynaud's, the sensitive blood vessels overreact to cold temperatures and become narrower than usual, significantly restricting the blood flow.
Symptoms can be triggered by mildly cool weather, getting something out of the freezer, or running your hands under a cold tap. Strong emotions such as stress or anxiety may also trigger symptoms.
The most common form of Raynaud's is primary Raynaud's phenomenon. This means the condition occurs by itself, without being associated with another health condition.
It seems thatprimary Raynauds is caused by disruptions in how the nervous system controls blood vessels. Exactly what causes these disruptions is unclear.
There's some evidence that primary Raynauds may be an inherited condition, as cases have been known to run in families.
In some cases, an underlyinghealth condition couldbe causing the blood vessels to overreact. This is called secondary Raynaud's.
The majority of cases of secondary Raynauds are associated with autoimmune conditions, which cause the immune system to attack healthy tissue.
Autoimmune conditions known to be associated with secondary Raynauds include:
Around1 in 10 people with primary Raynauds go on to develop an autoimmune condition.
Blood-born viral infections, hepatitis B and hepatitis C , can occasionally trigger Raynauds in some people.
Some types of cancer can cause secondary Raynauds. These areusually cancers that develop inside the blood, bone marrow or immune system, such as:
Secondary Raynaud's can also be a side effect of taking certain medicines, including:
Illegal drugs , such as cocaine and amphetamines, can also cause secondary Raynauds.
Raynaud's sometimes results from a physical injury. It can also affect musicians, people who type a lot, or other people who use their fingers and hands more than usual.
Skin and tissue damage caused by frostbite can also lead to Raynaud's.
Smoking cigarettes also increases your risk of developing Raynaud's. Readabout the support available to help you quit smoking .
Vibration white finger is a term used when secondary Raynaud's has been caused by vibration. This typically happens to people who regularly use certain types of vibrating tools, such as:
Any vibrating tool that causes tingling or numbness in your fingers could lead to vibration white finger.
Your employer has a responsibility to protect you from vibration white finger. If the job can't be done without vibrating tools:
If you're diagnosed with the condition, tell your employer as soon as possible. If you stop using vibrating tools at an early stage, you may recover fully.
By law, your employer must contact the Health and Safety Executive about your condition. You may be entitled to an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, which is a payment given to people who have become ill or injured as a result of their work.
See the GOV.UK website for more information about the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit .
Raynauds phenomenon is a common condition that affects the blood supply to certain parts of the body usually the fingers and toes.
Raynaud's phenomenon is the result of over-sensitive blood vessels in the extremities of our body. In many cases, no cause is identified.
Raynaud's phenomenon can usually be diagnosed after an examination of your symptoms and some blood tests.