Brrrrr. Hello Cold. Hello Raynaud’s!
Hello Raynaud’s! Another indicator winter is on the way. When the air gets a bit nippy and the temperature drops to around 50 degrees, my fingers and toes beg for wooly socks and warm mittens. A Raynaud’s Phenomenon episode is my personal start to our long Wisconsin winter.
My fingers and toes would turn white, then start hurting when exposed to the cold long before I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In those days I didn’t pay much attention to what was going on. I was a healthy creature and just covered my cold digits up without giving it a second thought. I wish my memory was more precise. When did my Raynaud’s first appear in relation to my RA diagnosis? Just a curiosity.
Raynaud Syndrome is a condition in which spasm of arteries cause reduced blood flow to areas of the body in response to cold temperatures, emotional or environmental stress. The fingers are typically affected. Toes, the nose, ears, lips and even nipples can be affected. The affected area usually turns white, then blue and is often accompanied with pain or numbness. When the area is warmed up and the blood flow returns, the area turns red and burns or throbs.
Raynaud’s disease is named after the French physician Maurice Raynaud who described the condition in 1862.
There are two main types:
- Primary Raynaud’s disease is when symptoms occur by themselves, not related to another condition. This type is more frequent in females with the onset usually between 15 and 30 years old.
- Secondary Raynaud’s, or Raynaud’s Phenomenon occurs secondary to a wide variety of conditions such as connective tissue disorders including RA. This form is less common, but more serious than the primary form and shows up around age 40, which is later than the primary type.
Both forms seem to occur more often in cold climates.
So, Raynaud’s season has started for me. That means I am in prevention mode.
Here are a few tips I use to prevent an episode:
- I bundle up before going anywhere. I wear a scarf, mittens, ear muffs, wooly socks and warm boots. I layer my clothing. I will even wear ski pants to walk our dog! It helps to be toasty warm all over.
- On super cold days I will start my car and let it warm up before driving.
- I wear socks and slippers around the house.
- I will use an oven mitt to take items out of the refrigerator or freezer if I’m feeling chilled.
- I will use hand warmers and toe warmers if I will be outside for long. These can be purchased at sport shops or ski shops.
- I wear socks to bed and may even wear a fleece jacket to bed.
- I prefer mittens over gloves so I can wiggle my fingers around to keep them warm and keep the blood flowing.
- There is nothing like a hot cup of coffee or hot chocolate to hold while sipping to keep my hands warm! It also warms me inside!
- Use insulated mugs for cold beverages.
Brrrrrr. Baby it is cold outside! Hello Raynaud’s. Time to prevent the episodes. Please share any tips you have. Arthritis Wisdom would love to hear from you!
Take good care and STAY WARM!