Northeast winters create cold temperature extremes in our region. For some people, this causes the thin muscle linings within our smaller arteries to go into spasm leading to a condition called Raynaud's Disease. While the "disease" has no known cause, a very similar variant called Raynaud's Syndrome is associated with several disorders, most notably, collagen vascular disease. Prime examples include, but are not limited to, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus. Instead of the normal, active blood flow pulse, "locked up" small arteries cause one's blood flow to become passive, merely trickling throughout one's extremities. Do your toes or fingers ever turn white, cherry red, or purple in cold weather environments? Do they tingle, become numb and/or burn despite the fact they feel very cold to touch? These are the common signs and symptoms of Raynaud's Disease and should not be taken lightly. Severe cases, called crises, can occasionally lead to gangrene of the tips of fingers and toes. Awareness of the condition affords afflicted people the opportunity to take preventive actions to avoid a crisis, while prompt medical attention during one is critical to prevent gangrene.
To prevent Raynaud's crises, insulation and rapid warming of the extremities is important. Fleece lined shoe wear, extra heavy gloves and socks are starters. Avoidance of smoking and prolonged cold exposure, when possible, is critical. Rapid foot warming, and performance of ankle circle and toe wiggling exercises may help alleviate an arterial spasm, and restore blood flow. For those people who cannot avoid cold exposure and experience an arterial spasm event, medication, either applied topically, or by mouth, may be necessary to relax persistent arterial spasms and help restore the blood flow pulse.
At FootCare Associates, our board certified doctors, Dr. John Guiliana, Dr. Barry Mullen, Dr. Fawaz Nesheiwat, and Dr. Kyle Alessi, are well positioned to evaluate and treat Raynaud's Disease, and other circulation problems that affect the feet and lower extremities. If you think you are currently experiencing, or have experienced an arterial spasm event, consider contacting one of our four offices to learn more about this condition.