June 24, 2016

Raynaud's Phenomenon

What tests do health-care professionals use to diagnose Raynaud's phenomenon?

In patients with the characteristic sequence of skin-color changes of the digits upon cold exposure, diagnosing RP is not difficult. Sometimes, certain patterns in the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) adjacent to the fingernails of patients with RP can be seen using a magnifying viewing instrument. Abnormal nail-fold capillary patterns can suggest the possibility of an associated rheumatic condition. There is, however, no single blood test to help the doctor to confirm the diagnosis. The doctor can order certain blood tests (for example, sedimentation rate, rheumatoid factor, antinuclear antibody, thyroid hormone levels, and protein levels) to exclude associated rheumatic diseases and thyroid disorders. The doctor can also perform certain maneuvers with the patient's extremities to exclude pinched blood vessels that can produce symptoms that mimic RP, such as in thoracic outlet syndrome.

Typically, patients with Raynaud's phenomenon that is a manifestation of a rheumatic disease have elevated blood sedimentation rates and antinuclear antibodies. Furthermore, capillary nail-fold abnormalities can frequently be found as described above.

What specialties of doctors treat Raynaud's phenomenon?

Doctors who treat Raynaud's phenomenon include general-medicine physicians, family medicine physicians, internists, rheumatologists, and hand surgeons. Continue Reading

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Reviewed on 5/13/2016