This is a poor name, imho, it is, to me, more like a "condition." It is NOT a sickness. It is just something that some people have and others do not. If you do not, then you are the fortunate one! It is also called "Raynaud's Syndrome" or "Raynaud's Phenomenon." Take your pick.
When I show my white fingers to somebody often they are amazed. It does look weird.
Every situation is different, of course. In my case, my fingers get white, cold and numb even at a
temperature as high as 10F. Only my fingers, thumbs excluded, turn white. This continues until I go back
indoors where I often stick my hands, up to the wrists, into HOT water. Then the fingers will throb, but
do not really hurt, and gradually come back to normal colors, at first with some blue tint. Naturally,
there is great danger of doing permanent damage so I try hard to avoid the symptoms.
If it is COLD out and I go out to shovel snow, or run the big snow-thrower, so that I am physically quite active, the symptoms do NOT appear. Sometimes, if I am indoors, with the thermostat up at 70F, and am wearing a sweater, the symptoms DO appear.
Many years ago I went to a doctor about it. He was not much help even though he did recognize what it was. He was a bit surprised and immediately phoned another doctor to say he had just found "a classic case of Raynaud's" and he sent me to see that doctor who, likewise, was of no help to me.
Then, years later, I happened to be sitting on the beach at San Diego. A fellow came along with a metal detector, looking for any coins others might have lost in the sand. He asked me to lift my foot so we got to talking and when I told him I came from northern Canada, he told me that he would never be able to go there because he had Raynaud's. Well, "Welcome to the club" I told him, "so do I." We chatted about it and he gave me a better explanation than any of the doctors had done. He told me "When it gets chilly, your body says, 'hey, it's cold out there; best I cut off the blood flow to the extremities, such as fingers, and keep it warm for more important organs such as lungs, brain, liver and kidneys.'"
I went for many years with the assumption that there were only two solutions available to me:
- have the nerves in my wrists cut so they could not constrict the blood flow, or
- move to a warmer climate
and neither was a good option to me.
I've been told that loggers get it from the vibration of their chainsaws. They have called it "Vibration Syndrome." I'm also told that smoking cigarettes (you know; those "cancer sticks") aggravates it. In fact, B.M. tells me "I just called Deryle and he still has Reynaud's Syndrome, however it is getting better since he quit smoking."
THEN, many years later I went grocery shopping and to get a prescription filled for Crestor (for high cholesterol). It
was cold and by the time I had walked across the parking lot and through the big store to the pharmacy department, my
fingers were white. I joked with the pharmacist and said, "but you don't have anything for THIS, do you?" "Yes, we do"
he repied." "WHAT!?" I asked, "please tell me what." He wrote down for me the drug he knew of; ADALAT. I went to my
doctor for a prescription and had it filled. It worked to about 90% effectiveness in my case. A great improvement!
A year or so later I happened to be in a different pharmacy and asked the pharmacist what drugs she knew of for my condition. She knew of nifedipine (Adalat) and said another one is pentoxifylline (Trental). The Adalat is convenient (one pill in the morning) and works for me with no side-effects. It was 95% effective and in late 2011 I found that it ALSO is used to treat High Blood Pressure which I have. I asked my doctor to up my dosage to 60mg tablets from the 30mg which I had been using. He did and so far I have seen ZERO recurrance of Raynauds.
Yet another pharmacist looked up Raynaud's Syndrome on the computer and came up with a list of 8 drugs "to improve blood circulation" and they are:
nifedipine (Adalat)...............this is the one I have used and like
Some are "Inexpensive" and others were listed as "Expensive."
Probably, if you are taking any medication for High Blood Pressure, you will want to be careful that taking BOTH drugs won't lower your blood pressure dangerously.
On Sunday, January 12, 2010, on Fox News, I saw/heard Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld mention that Raynauds can be controlled also by using drugs intended for men who "cannot get it up any longer." I am asking the doctor about this and will report here when I hear back from him.
Gloves are sold specifically for this condition also. I ordered a pair, and told them that I was very skeptical
that they would work and that I would return them for a FULL refund, including postage, if they did, in fact, not work.
They canceled my order because they would NOT refund postage cost if I returned them; their terms are here:
http://www.therapygloves.com/exchange.html and I would urge
you NOT to buy these gloves. The possibility of them working is probably, imho, NIL.
One doctor, at my request, wrote me a prescription for some very thick, fleece-lined, suede, VERY expensive gloves. He did not know that these were of absolutely zero help. I guess that's because the SOURCE of the white-finger problem is NOT in the fingers. The problem is in the wrists. In spite of that, I bought a pair of mittens with electric heaters in them, powered by one "D" battery for each hand. They did NOT work.
I made a pair of "wraps" for my forearms. They went from elbow to wrist and were made from the legs off a pair of "Long Johns" with several layers of "blanket material" (the stuff motels use for blankets) around that. That did not help either.
This DOES help a lot, at least for me. From the waist down. YMMV, of course but it works for me.
My friend Terry Weber and I happened to bring up the subject of Raynaud's and Terry told me that his Mother had it so he went to work on a 'no pills' approach. I liked that. He developed a "wrist wrap" made of very unusual insulating material, developed by NASA. His customers have told him that THEY WORK. You can find Terry's solution at http://www.originalsbyweber.com/raynaudshelp.html and yes, he is using a picture there of MY fingers. My Famous Fingers. Tell Terry I (Ken Laninga) sent you! My case of Raynaud's is particularly bad and Terry is working on a special order to help my situation.
I have not tried this but it might be a viable option; please let me know if it works for you: http://www.chiro.org/acupuncture/ABSTRACTS/Raynaud.shtml .
I am just about out of ideas but will report here if I come up with anything worth sharing.
If YOU have any good ideas, please share them with me; and thanks!
It is always nice to hear that folks found this site useful; here is a comment I got:
Hello, My name is Kylyn, and I was so happy too read your info on Reynaud's. I've been suffering for years with this. My feet and hands turn dark blue, and purple. One day my feet turned black, and I had to go too the ER. No one has ever explained any of this too me before. One Doctor told me what I had, but he never explained it. I just wanted to say thank you for the info, and it's silly, but I never thought to look this up online. My best friend sent me the site. Thank goodness for best friends:) I've been very uncomfortable ever since we got stationed in Alaska. Anyways, thank you again, now I know what to talk to my doctor about. Thank you so much:) Sincerley Kylyn Bertrand