September 29, 2020 Redding, CT – What gives you cold feet? Going to the dentist? Speaking in front of a group?
October is Raynaud’s Awareness Month. Raynaud’s phenomenon is a disorder of the small blood vessels of the extremities, reducing blood flow.
For the estimated 15 million-plus Americans with Raynaud’s phenomenon, stress-induced cold feet mean a flareup of a painful medical condition. Fingers, toes and other extremities may change color, usually turning blue, white and/or red.
According to Lynn Wunderman, chair of the Raynaud’s Association (www.raynauds.org), “Colder weather or air-conditioned spaces are typical triggers, but stress can also cause painful spasms.”
The coronavirus surely creates stress as people are afraid of getting the virus, losing their jobs and income. While there are no studies that prove Raynaud’s attacks have increased during this period, Wunderman notes, some doctors who treat Raynaud’s patients report that the severity of these attacks seems to be increasing.
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Some 90 percent of sufferers, however, are unaware that their pain and discomfort have a medical explanation. That’s a mistake, says Wunderman. “For some people, Raynaud’s is a sign of a serious disorder such as scleroderma, multiple sclerosis or lupus.” Sometimes the onset of Raynaud’s occurs months or years before a primary disease presents itself. That’s why medical intervention and monitoring are important.
“There’s no FDA-approved drug specifically approved for Raynaud’s,” Wunderman notes. “It’s pretty shocking that such a huge market is not being tapped by pharmaceutical companies.”
Calcium channel blockers such as nifedipine, most often used for high blood pressure, may be prescribed “off-label” to open the blood vessels so blood circulates more freely. Some sufferers find relief from erectile dysfunction drugs, which are costly and often not covered by insurance. Topical antibiotics or nitroglycerin paste or patches may be prescribed to help boost circulation and protect against infection and digital ulcers.