February 2019 is Raynaud’s Awareness Month!
” Raynaud’s affects between 5% to 10% of the population” – Source – Raynaud’s Association
Raynaud’s Phenomenon is a condition which affects the digits (fingers/toes). The most common trigger is when a person is exposed to cold temperatures or high levels of stress. This causes the arteries, in our digits, to become narrow which leads a person to experience an ‘attack’. This attack can present as numbness, change in colour, coldness and pain in our extremities.
“Raynaud’s affects 1 in 6 people, in the UK” – Source – Scleroderma & Raynaud’s UK
Back in November 2009, I suddenly began experiencing excruciating pain in my feet. It was really painful to walk. It stopped me from sleeping and the only way I managed to get some sleep was by placing a heat pad underneath my feet. They were ice cold too.
Doctors assured me that it was Frostbite or Cramps. I kept fighting until I got a firm diagnosis.
It was not until February 2011 that I was finally referred to a rheumatologist that I was diagnosed with Raynaud’s. I had never heard of it before so I had no idea what the condition was. I don’t think I am the first person that researches a diagnosis on good old Google! After reading various information I began to have a better understanding.
At first, I was prescribed Nifedipine however these did not relieve any of my symptoms. I was referred to a day clinic to receive Illoprost infusion. Illoprost is a drug which pumps through the arteries to relax them and expand to their normal size. I had to endure this for 6 hours each day for 5 days, every 6 months. It was definitely worth it as it helped dramatically!
Unfortunately, when I moved to a new area, my new rheumatologist was adamant that I did not have Raynaud’s and discharged me. I will be seeking a second opinion from a different rheumatologist.
There are 2 different types of Raynaud’s: Primary and Secondary.
There is no cause for primary, however for secondary, there most likely is an underlying condition which has caused it.
Ways To Prevent An Attack
- Try not to be exposed to cold temperatures for a long period of time.
- Relax! Take it easy as Mika once sang – Seriously though, stress can trigger an attack and this will just cause more stress. There are hundreds of ways to relax, find one that is best suited to you.
- Exercise – I’m not talking pumping iron at the gym! Go slow and steady.
- Wrap up! – That’s right, get your thermals out!