Diabetic Foot Care Advice

The aim of this blog is to help members of the public to understand their feet better. However the information on this blog should never be regarded as medical advice. Readers with foot problems are strongly encouraged to visit their GP if not the podiatrist for further medical assessment and treatment.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Raynaud's Phenomenon

Raynaud’s phenomenon is a condition that compromises the circulatory system’s ability to supply blood to the toes. This condition can affect the small blood vessels in the fingers, ears, lips, and nose. Raynaud’s phenomenon causes the toes and other effected body parts to be oversensitive to exposure to cold temperatures. It is also called Raynaud’s disease.

Often, the first symptom that emerges is skin discoloration after cold exposure. The skin may appear white, red, or bluish purple due to the abnormal constriction of the blood vessels. Skin turns white is the arteries in the effected body part have collapsed. Blue or purple discoloration Is caused by the body parts lack of oxygenated blood. The body part may also feel cold or numb. The body part may turn red as the blood flow is restored after an attack of Raynaud’s phenomenon. Some people with Raynaud’s disease experience all three discolorations at different phases of the disorder.

Attacks of Raynaud’s phenomenon can be triggered by cold temperatures or emotional stress. Raynaud’s can occur alone or can be caused by another disease. When Raynaud’s disease has an onset that is not due to another disease, it is called primary Raynaud’s. The cause for primary Raynaud’s is unknown. Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and athosclerosis are examples of diseases that can cause Raynaud’s phenomenon. When Raynaud’s phenomenon develops as the result of a disease or other causes, such as excessive use of vibrating power tools, having frostbite, or smoking, it is called secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon.

A nailfold capillaroscopy is the diagnostic test doctors use to diagnose Raynaud’s phenomenon. This test allows doctors to microscopically examine the capillaries. Only secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon yields a positive test result.

When people with Raynaud’s phenomenon experience an attack, they should immediately warm their toes and other effected body parts with warm water. It is preferable for people with Raynaud’s disease to stay indoors in times of cold weather. If they must go outside in the cold, wearing several layers of warm clothing is strongly recommended. Stress-triggered attacks may be avoided or their occurrence lessened by avoiding stressful situations and using relaxation exercises or biofeedback. The doctor may prescribe medication to help prevent attacks.


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