DESCRIPTIONRaynaud's disease is a primary disorder of the circulatory system that affects blood circulation to the fingers and occasionally the toes. This is different from Raynaud's phenomenon, which is a circulatory-system disorder that occurs as a complication of other diseases. The small arteries to the hands and feet are involved. Both sexes can be affected but it is most common in females after age 12.
Appropriate health care includes:
Self-care after diagnosis.
Biofeedback training (See Glossary).
Surgery to sever sympathetic nerves to the involved extremities. Surgery usually relieves symptoms for 1 to 2 years before they recur.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSFingers that turn pale when exposed to cold or stress. Paleness is followed by a bluish tinge, then redness. Pain, numbness and tingling accompany the color changes. Warmth relieves these symptoms.
Chronic infections around the child's fingernails and toenails.
Ulcers on fingertips caused by inadequate blood circulation in fingers.
Symptoms develop gradually over a period of years. With Raynaud's phenomenon, symptoms may begin suddenly.
Spasms of arteries that supply blood to the fingers and toes caused by extreme sensitivity to cold. The sensitivity may be due to poor function of the child's autoimmune system.
Stress; smoking, which impairs circulation to the extremities; cold, wet weather.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCEYour child should not start smoking. Tobacco triggers the problem. This disease is rare among non-smokers.
There are many similarities between Raynaud's disease and Raynaud's phenomenon. Diagnosis between the two may require years of observation.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory blood studies.
X-rays of the child's hands and feet.
Permanent weakness and numbness in the child's toes and fingers.
Gangrene and amputation (worst cases only).
This condition is currently considered incurable. The disease worsens gradually over many years. However, your child's symptoms can be relieved or controlled. Most children cope well with Raynaud's disease and live a normal life span if complications don't arise. Scientific research into causes and treatment continues, so there is hope for increasingly effective treatment and cure.
HOME CAREInstructions for your child:
Stop smoking. Symptoms will improve if you do.
Avoid exposure to cold in any form. Wear mittens and gloves outdoors and when handling ice or frozen foods.
Wear comfortable, roomy shoes and wool socks.
Avoid stressful situations. See Appendix 19.
Move to a warm climate, if possible.
MEDICATIONYour doctor may prescribe:
--Vasodilator drugs to dilate the small arteries and improve circulation.
--Sedatives to reduce the child's stress.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
No restrictions, except for your child to keep warm and to avoid chilling while participating in active sports.
DIET & FLUIDSNo special diet.
Because alcohol dilates blood vessels and may temporarily improve circulation slightly, your child may have an occasional alcoholic drink if your doctor suggests this.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?When appetite returns and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of Raynaud's disease.
Discomfort worsens, despite treatment.
Ulcers that do not heal appear on the child's fingers or toes.