This condition affects the arteries of the body, which are the blood vessels responsible for carrying blood away from the heart to different parts of the body. The smaller arteries that supply blood to the skin intermittently vasospasm or constrict, limiting the blood flow to certain areas of the body. The most common areas affected are the fingers, ears, toes, nipples, knees, or nose. Over time these arteries can thicken, limiting blood flow even more. Exposure to cold temperatures or emotional stress can result in a vasospasm attack.
Why do I have Raynaud’s Syndrome?
The exact cause of this condition is not well understood and may be considered primary or secondary. The primary condition isn’t related to any underlying condition and the cause is often unknown. Secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon is related to another underlying condition, tends to be more serious, and appears later in life past the age of 40. Risk factors that may contribute to this phenomenon may be related to the following:
- Connective tissue diseases, such as scleroderma
- History of autoimmune disease such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or Sjogren’s syndrome
- Arterial diseases, such as Buerger’s disease, atherosclerosis, or primary pulmonary hypertension
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Repetitive actions or vibrations
- Injuries to the hands or feet, such as fracture, surgery, or frostbite
- Certain medications, such as beta-blockers, migraine medication, ADHD drugs, chemotherapy agents, or over-the-counter cold medications that can narrow the blood vessels
- First degree relative family history
- Female gender
- Living in a cold climate