specializing in advanced surgical care of hand, wrist, and elbow injuries and conditions

Raynaud’s Phenomenon

 Northeast PA winters bring snow storms, icy roads and cold temperatures.  These conditions can make it difficult to be outdoors.  However, for many people winter may not only be unpleasant but it may also be painful. 

For individuals with Raynaud’s cold temperatures triggers an abnormal response of constriction or narrowing of blood vessels in the fingers, toes, ears, and nose which interrupts normal blood flow. As a result the fingertips turn white and blue and as they begin to warm up the fingertips become red and quite painful.

Those with Raynaud’s are more susceptible to frost bite and developing sores on the fingertips. However, individuals with Raynaud’s can enjoy and participate in winter activities with some simple lifestyle changes and prevention measures.

Here are a few tips:

  • Keep them warm, as opposed to get them warm. Put gloves/mittens on or begin to use hand warmers before being exposed to cold temperatures. Keep blood flowing before giving Mother Nature the opportunity to constrict blood flow. 
  • Wear gloves or mittens, mittens tend to keep hands warmer than fingered gloves.
  • Hand Warmers can be purchased at many pharmacies or sporting goods stores. They are inexpensive, work effectively for up to 8 hours and are not bulky. They fit inside gloves, pockets shoes and boots. 
  • Wear layers; the Raynaud’s response occurs when the body gets cold not necessarily when your hands or feet get cold. Therefore dress in layers. Limbkeepers® and Wristies® that can be used for layering. 
  • Keep exposed areas covered; wear a scarf, facemask to keep face covered, shirts with thumb holes and always wear a hat. 
  • Avoid handling cold objects and drinking cold beverages. 
  • Stay hydrated; the water in your body helps maintain heat and blood flow. Dehydration limits blood flow so people who are dehydrated will become cold faster. 
  • Minimize stress; stress narrow blood vessels and therefore blood flow. Studies have shown that deep breathing and meditation raise the temperature in hands and feet. Yoga and mindful meditation are also considered helpful stress reduce and produce natural stress reducing hormones. 
  • Physical activity; Aerobic exercise for 15-20 minutes a day will increase blood flow. Simple activities such as parking your car further from an entrance, arm windmills while sitting at your desk, if you sit for work get up and walk around the office or if watching TV do jumping jacks during commercials. 

Following some of these simple tips may make the winter months in Northeast PA a little more comfortable. If you need further assistance with your symptoms or diagnosis contact Hand Surgery Associates.