If you have Raynaud’s disease, certain blood vessels in your body – most often, the ones in your fingers and toes – rapidly narrow when exposed to cold or stress. These narrowed vessels reduce the amount of blood that can get to your fingers and toes, leading them to turn white, blue or red. Raynaud’s disease can be painful; the attacks, however, are temporary, and the affected areas often turn red when the vessels re-open and blood returns. Raynaud’s has been known to occur with scleroderma, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune diseases.
Treatments for Raynaud's Disease
Although there is no cure for Raynaud’s disease, making sure you wear warm clothes in the cold and avoid triggers such as stress, caffeine and smoking may help limit the attacks. However, for patients with persistent symptoms, treatment can provide relief. At UChicago Medicine, treatments for Raynaud’s include:
- Prescription medicines like calcium channel blockers to relax and widen blood vessels.
- Botox injections, which can temporarily improve symptoms by blocking the nerves that stimulate the reaction.
- Fat grafting. Invented by a UChicago Medicine surgeon, fat grafting involves taking a small amount of fat from the patient’s belly and injecting it into targeted areas of the hands. This minimally-invasive procedure can reduce the symptoms associated with Raynaud’s disease.
- Surgery to remove the nerves that surround the blood vessels in the hands and feet. Called a sympathectomy, without nerve stimulation, the blood vessels stay more relaxed and are less likely to become very narrow due to cold.