Spring has sprung here in Maryland, as well as throughout other parts of the country that have spent months in winter’s grip. Many patients are happily pulling their sandals out of storage, and are comfortable wearing them in the warmer temperatures. But what if it’s warm out, and it’s time to turn the furnace off, but your feet are still cold? What if it seems like your feet should be fine, but they’re often uncomfortably chilly? What if it’s hard to get them to warm up? You might be dealing with Raynaud’s Disease.
There are two types of Raynaud’s disease:
- Primary Raynaud’sis idiopathic, meaning your doctor cannot determine a cause.
- Secondary Raynaud’sis associated with a particular stimulus, including autoimmune diseases such as lupus, scleroderma, or rheumatoid arthritis, or a circulation disorder such as Peripheral Arterial Disease or diabetes. Other known causes of secondary Raynaud’s include smoking, medication side effect, repetitive stress from years of using vibrating power tools, and frostbite.
For people experiencing an attack of Raynaud’s disease, the blood vessels narrow in response to the cold and blood supply is limited temporarily. Arteries to the toes are stressed and go into spasm. This can also happen in the fingers, as well as in the ears and nose. Of course, our perception of cold is subjective. What is too cold for someone with Raynaud’s may be perfectly fine for someone else. During an attack of Raynaud's, the feet and toes will respond to the cold by feeling chilled and numb. They may then become visibly white or even blue. As the spasms subside, blood flow will return and the toes and feet will warm up. At this point, they may turn red and begin to throb and hurt.
There is no cure for Raynaud’s Disease, but if you have been diagnosed with the condition, there are steps you can take to minimize your risk of an attack. Be sure to keep your body warm and your feet dry, to wear insulated shoes and wool socks, quite or reduce tobacco consumption, avoid caffeine and alcohol, and reduce your stress levels as much as possible.
If you think that you have observed symptoms of Raynaud’s disease, or if you have any other concern about the health and wellness of your feet, ankles, or lower legs, the first course of action is to visit the podiatrist. Call Podiatry Group of Annapolis, P.A. at 410-224-4448 or click here to schedule a convenient appointment with James M. McKee, DPM, FACFAS in our comfortable office on Solomons Island Road today. With decades of specialized training and experience in diagnosing and treating Raynaud’s disease, Dr. McKee will begin with a thorough examination and then work with you to create an effective and individualized plan for treatment and aftercare.