Progression and Potential Complications of Raynaud’s Phenomenon


What is Raynaud’s phenomenon?

Raynaud’s phenomenon is a condition in which blood flow to the small blood vessels in the fingers or toes is reduced in response to cold or stress. Although less common, blood vessels in other areas of the body, such as the nose, ears, or knees, can also be affected. During a Raynaud’s attack, affected areas typically feel cold, numb, and turn pale, white, or blue. As the blood vessels relax, the area may become red, swollen, or painful.

Progression of Raynaud’s phenomenon

There are two types of Raynaud’s phenomenon: primary Raynaud’s and secondary Raynaud’s. Primary Raynaud’s occurs independently of another medical condition, and secondary Raynaud’s occurs in conjunction with another health condition. The progression of Raynaud’s phenomenon varies and is dependent on which type of Raynaud’s is present.

  • Primary Raynaud’s phenomenon
    Individuals with primary Raynaud’s phenomenon typically experience intermittent flares throughout their adult lives. However, symptoms typically become easier to manage with time.
  • Secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon
    The progression of secondary Raynaud’s is highly individualized and dependent on the underlying condition causing it. Treatment of the underlying health condition may help reduce symptoms of Raynaud’s and help prevent any complications.

Potential complications

Complications of Raynaud’s are rare and are more often associated with secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon. Potential complications of Raynaud’s include the following:

  • Sores, wounds, or ulcers on the fingers or toes
  • Infection in the affected area
  • Dead tissue (in cases of a completely blocked artery)
  • Gangrene
  • Amputation (in cases of untreated gangrene)
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