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Raynauds Disease

Everyone has cold hands and feet at times when the weather changes and the thermometer drops.  Since the hands and feet are a long distance from the heart, they tend to be more prone to cold sensation.  Some individuals have more than just cold hands and feet.  They have problems with peripheral blood flow and may have some degree of the condition known as Raynaud’s Disease or Phenomenon.

This fairly common condition happens most often in females.  The fingers and toes and sometimes the tips of the nose and outer ear undergo color changes precipitated by cold or at times emotional stresses.  The color may vary from pale to cyanosis or “blue” shade to deep redness.  It can, in extreme cases, proceed to skin breakdown, ulceration and infection.  It is usually seen in the ends of a few or even one digit.  There may be swelling, burning or tingling sensation and tends to come and go.  It may be so uncomfortable that it affects everyday activities and sleep patterns.

Most of these symptoms are a spasm occurring in the very small vessels of the digits in people who are sensitive to cold, damp weather.  This is referred to as the “primary condition.”  Sometimes Raynaud’s Phenomenon is in response to a systemic disease or from medications taken (often for hypertension or high blood pressure).  This is called a “secondary condition.”

It is important to know into which class your condition falls, and your podiatrist will make this diagnosis.  The majority of the simple conditions are treated by proper foot protection and oral medications to help increase the blood flow.  Often local injection of anesthetics will also help release the vascular spasm.

The following are important steps to follow in conjunction with treating and preventing this uncomfortable condition of the feet.
1.    Keep the feet protected and warm at all times.
2.    Avoid nylon hose if possible.
3.    Keep the feet dry.  Use powders in socks and shoes.
4.    Plan ahead if going to a colder climate.

      a) Wear polypropylene liner socks and outer wool socks for cold exposure
-skiing, Walking, etc

b) Wear insulated or warm leather shoes.

5.    Avoid constricting shoes, socks and garters.
6.    Never apply high heat directly to the feet, rather warm them slowly with warm water soaks, dry well, and then warm socks and shoes.
7.    Never use tobacco in any form.
8.    Report promptly to your podiatrist any unusual changes in your foot condition.