Even though we have hopefully seen the back of winter it’s worth remembering that nasty (and surprisingly common) condition known as Reynaud’s Syndrome can flair up at any time.

Reynaud’s Syndrome

Raynaud’s syndrome, also known as Raynaud’s phenomenon, Raynaud’s disease, or simply Raynaud’s, is a condition that affects the blood supply to the extremities of the body.

Raynaud’s Syndrome is most commonly triggered by cold temperatures but it can also be triggered by stress

The areas most frequently affected are the fingers and toes, but occasionally the earlobes, nose, nipples, or tongue can be affected. It is a common condition, more so in cold climates as cold is one of the prime triggers of an attack.

It is a common condition, more so in cold climates as cold is one of the prime triggers of an attack.

The fingers are the most commonly affected area, with an additional 40% of sufferers also experiencing symptoms in the toes.

For ease, we will refer here to fingers but the same information and treatments apply to the toes.

Raynaud’s is a common problem, with up to 20% of the population affected in countries with colder climates. It affects more women than men and has a high hereditary factor, with the onset of symptoms usually coming before the age of 30.

Triggers and Symptoms

Raynauds

During an attack the digital arteries that supply the blood vessels in the fingers contract and blood flow is severely restricted.

At first the fingers go white and will feel very cool or cold to the touch. Then the fingers will go a blue as the oxygen from the blood in the narrowed blood vessels is quickly used.

Finally the fingers go bright red as the blood vessels reopen and the blood flow returns—at this stage the fingers may also throb, tingle, burn, or feel numb.

Attacks may last from a few minutes to several hours; for many people this is a mild and minor irritation that doesn’t have a significant impact on life. For others the symptoms will be more severe and there may need to lifestyle changes—for example, not working outdoors—to manage the condition.

For others the symptoms will be more severe and there may need to lifestyle changes—for example, not working outdoors—to manage the condition.

There are medications available that can help,and these should be discussed by the sufferer with their doctor.

Primary and Secondary

There are two forms of Raynaud’s and the treatment given will depend on the form. More than 90% of sufferers have primary Raynaud’s.136

The cause of primary Raynaud’s is not known—it is not a symptom or part of another illness and symptoms completely disappear after each bout. Massage is very safe for people with primary

Raynaud’s and self-massage can be applied when a bout occurs.

Secondary Raynaud’s occurs as a result of another condition or as a result of medication or injury. Most cases of secondary Raynaud’s are associated with autoimmune conditions, such as scleroderma (a condition that causes thickening and hardening of the skin), rheumatoid arthritis,
Most cases of secondary Raynaud’s are associated with autoimmune conditions, such as scleroderma (a condition that causes thickening and hardening of the skin), rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome (a condition where the immune system attacks the body’s sweat and tear glands), lupus, or multiple sclerosis.

Some forms of cancer may also cause Raynaud’s, but secondary Raynaud’s does not always mean a severe underlying illness.

It can also be caused as a side effect of migraine medications, beta blockers, some decongestants, the contraceptive pill, or hormone replacement therapy.

Raynauds massage

When the Raynaud’s is secondary there will be other symptoms and onset is often much later in life. While primary Raynaud’s almost always affects all the fingers, secondary Raynaud’s symptoms may start with just one or two fingers.

Secondary Raynaud’s always needs medical investigation so that the underlying cause can be diagnosed and treatment given.
While primary Raynaud’s almost always affects all the fingers, secondary Raynaud’s symptoms may start with just one or two fingers.

Secondary Raynaud’s always needs medical investigation so that the underlying cause can be diagnosed and treatment given.

Specific Contraindications

If the underlying cause of the condition has already been diagnosed then massage treatment can be given, using the precautions given for the underlying condition.

In rare cases there can be complications with secondary Raynaud’s with ulceration, infections, or in extreme cases gangrene. If there are any such signs the massage would not be suitable and medical advice should be sought

are any such signs the massage would not be suitable and medical advice should be sought

Raynauds massage

Massage and Trigger Point Treatments

The starting point for massaging someone with Raynaud’s is to make sure that your own hands are warm—for some people, being touched by cold hands would be enough to trigger an attack—and make sure that you pre-warm any massage oil that you might be using.

Treatment can be applied gently during an attack or more deeply between attacks.

Trigger Points

Myofascial trigger point (MTrP) nerve entrapment can worsen symptoms of Raynaud’s so check MTrPs associated with the referral patterns to the affected area.

If you think soft tissue work could help your Reynaud’s give me a call on 07980 339 864