How is Raynaud’s treated?
Both types of Raynaud’s are lifelong conditions. To date, no cure has been found. But research is under way to improve diagnosis and treatment. And lifestyle changes can help with the symptoms.
- Reduce exposure to cold or temperature extremes, such as going outdoors in winter or removing items from a freezer.
- Quit smoking.
- Learn stress-relief techniques.
- Warm your hands or feet during an episode with warm water or chemical warmers, which are small packets that you can put in your pockets or shoes.
- Exercise to increase blood flow (especially for primary Raynaud’s disease).
- Avoid wearing clothes with tight cuffs, or tight jewelry such as rings or bracelets.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol.
Medicines that help Reynaud’s symptoms include:
- Many different calcium channel blockers can be used to reduce how often you have episodes and how long the episodes last. These medicines relax the small blood vessels so they can open up again.
- Alpha blockers can be helpful. They block a hormone called epinephrine that constricts blood vessels.
- Medicine that helps blood cells flow through small channels better, such as pentoxifylline
- ACE inhibitors, such as captopril
- Intravenous (IV) prostaglandins
New medicines for people whose Raynaud’s symptoms don’t seem to be controlled by other methods include fluoxetine, phosphodiesterase inhibitors such as cilostazol, sildenafil and an angiotensin II receptor antagonist losartan.
Sometimes the affected area can be injected with a medicine that helps block the nerves that are triggering the blood vessel changes. This treatment may be needed more than once.
If your Raynaud’s is especially serious—for example, if lack of blood flow is so extreme you could lose a finger or toe—you may need surgery to improve the blood flow to your fingers and toes, or surgery or shots to block the nerves that control the arteries. In rare cases, damaged or destroyed tissue may need to be treated or removed.
If another condition is causing secondary Raynaud’s disease, you may need treatment for that condition. Talk to your doctor about your options.
See your doctor often for ongoing care. Contact your doctor right away if symptoms occur on only one side of your body, or if you get sores or ulcers on your fingers or toes.
Tips on How to Manage a Raynaud’s Episode
- Get warm: Move inside if it’s cold outside or move to warmer place. Use warm water to soak your hands and feet.
- Move around: Wiggle your fingers and toes. Move your arms in wide circles.
- Encourage circulation. Massage your fingers and toes.
- De-stress. Get away from a stressful situation if that is part of what is causing your symptoms.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff