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Raynaud's Phenomenon

What causes Raynaud's phenomenon?

The causes of primary Raynaud's phenomenon and secondary Raynaud's phenomenon are unknown. Both abnormal nerve control of the blood-vessel diameter and nerve sensitivity to cold exposure have been suspected as being contributing factors. The characteristic color changes of the digits are in part related to initial blood-vessel narrowing due to spasm of the tiny muscles in the wall of the vessels, followed by sudden opening (dilation), as described above. The small arteries of the digits can have microscopic thickness of their inner lining, which also leads to abnormal narrowing of the blood vessels.

What are risk factors from Raynaud's phenomenon?

Risk factors for Raynaud's phenomenon include injury from frostbite and vibrating tools, medications (bleomycin [Blenoxane]), propranolol (Inderal), ergotamine), and having rheumatic autoimmune diseases such as scleroderma, systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjögren's syndrome, mixed connective tissue disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.

What conditions have been associated with Raynaud's phenomenon?

Raynaud's phenomenon has been seen with a number of conditions, including rheumatic autoimmune diseases (scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and mixed connective tissue disease), hormone imbalance (hypothyroidism and carcinoid), trauma (frostbite, vibrating tools), medications (propranolol [Inderal], estrogens without additional progesterone, bleomycin [Blenoxane] used in cancer treatment, and ergotamine used for headaches), nicotine, and even rarely with cancers.

Reviewed on 7/12/2017

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