(Devilish) Raynaud’s Syndrome

Ever heard of Raynaud’s Syndrome? Nobody seems to be able to confirm whether this odd circulation disorder is related to diabetes, but I have my suspicions.

Also known as Raynaud’s Phenomenon (or Raynaud’s Disease), this is a condition involving “periodic episodes of reduced blood supply in the extremeties when exposed to cold or sudden temperature changes.” Meaning your fingers and toes go white and numb and become pretty much useless for a period of time. Uncomfortable, and sometimes quite scary!

Did I mention that I grew up near Los Angeles, in what is arguably the mildest climate in the world? Nevertheless, a walk to the bus stop on a June morning usually meant white, dead fingers that wouldn’t recover until we arrived at school, and I made to the girls’ room and waited (and waited…) for the tap water to turn warm. I’d hold my hands under the warm water slowly, painfully flexing the fingers as my classmates oogled about what a freak I was. And now I’ve put a name to it! See, guys, I wasn’t possessed by the hand-devil after all…

RaynaudsAnyway, I’ve learned that Raynaud’s may affect 5 to 10 percent of the general population in the United States. Women are apparently more likely to get it than men. The NIAMS site notes: “Raynaud’s phenomenon appears to be more common in people who live in colder climates. However, people with the disorder who live in milder climates may have more attacks during periods of colder weather.” Right, like every time it time it rained in Southern California.

And I just discovered that I’m not the only one wondering if it is somehow associated with diabetes or increases my risk of complications. I only found one online mention of the fact that “Patients with diabetes often develop Raynaud’s phenomenon” — and this took me a while to dig up. Plus, the treatment suggestions sound painfully familiar: don’t smoke, control stress, and exercise regularly. If things get really bad, you can try a calcium-channel blocker or vasodilator drug (?).

Unfortunately for me, one of the few things that seems to stop Raynaud’s in its tracks is Viagra. Who would’a thought? It figures…


40 Responses

  1. Hamish
    Hamish November 30, 2005 at 1:05 pm | | Reply

    Hi Amy

    As you know I was recently diagnosed (or maybe it was all a big mistake, I’m still in denial so there’s a good chance). Anyway, my mum’s fingers often go white or, more disturbingly, green in cold weather. I don’t *think* she’s diabetic, but if this does run in families it seems more than a coincidence. Fortunately my own hands in contrast are always warm and dry! Shoulda been a doctor.


  2. jen
    jen November 30, 2005 at 2:30 pm | | Reply

    This makes me wonder. My hands have been prone to being cold my entire life, and feet too, and I have always joked, “Poor circulation.” I am also, thanks to abdominal fat and body shape, a very good candidate for type 2 diabetes someday, so I am doing what I can now (running daily) to stave it off.

    This would appear to be one more indication that I am likely to get it.

  3. Ron
    Ron November 30, 2005 at 4:38 pm | | Reply

    The other symptom I heard about that may ? be related to circulation was low blood pressure that you experience as dizziness when quickly going from sitting or lying down to standing up. Not sure if that is something you have as well.

  4. Gina
    Gina November 30, 2005 at 4:59 pm | | Reply

    there are a couple of people with Raynauds on my forums

  5. Zazzy
    Zazzy November 30, 2005 at 9:29 pm | | Reply

    My mother has Raynaud’s. Her fingers periodically turn black and it’s quite scary. One of the things she was told to do was to warm her hands in warm water. She was on cardizem for a while but had low blood pressure and fainting spells.

  6. Andrea
    Andrea December 1, 2005 at 6:53 am | | Reply

    I believe I have this “phenomenom”. It’s not very pleasant… Basically, when my fingers get very cold, they turn blue and then white (probably from lack of circulation) and they go numb. Usually if I move my fingers and warm them up, circulation improves and I regain feeling.

    I actually had this problem prior to my diagnosis of Diabetes, it actually occurred more frequently then. Now, once in a while it will happen, but not as much. I remember reading somewhere that people who have this problem usually have another (bigger) health problem lurking below the surface. In my case, this was true, unfortunately. It makes you wonder about the connection between the two.

  7. Val
    Val December 1, 2005 at 9:28 am | | Reply

    Hi Amy -
    You know, I have had this happen since I was a kid – at about 40 degrees outside, some of my fingers go yellowish and numb and stay that way for a long time. I always thought it was due to freezing them at some point as a kid. Even now, I always try to wear mittens not gloves to keep the fingers together for warmth. I had never heard of a connection with diabetes before, but I’ll ask next time I’m in the office – never thought to bring it up with the endo as I’ve been diabetic for 2 years but had the cold hands for 30….

  8. Andrea
    Andrea December 1, 2005 at 10:38 pm | | Reply

    Hi. I am pleased to find your blog, and will be back.

    My husband (age 52) has been diabetic since he was 13 or so, and his Mother had Reynaud’s disease. My husband’s health is very good, but I thought you’d be interested to hear of this family connection with the disease. I look forward to reading more of your blog.

  9. Carlos A Selmonosky.MD
    Carlos A Selmonosky.MD December 6, 2005 at 2:42 pm | | Reply

    Thoracic Outlet Syndrome is a common
    cause of Raynaud’s.
    See http://www.tos-syndrome.com

  10. Marysienka
    Marysienka December 6, 2005 at 2:44 pm | | Reply

    I have Raynaud’s as well. I remember my friends in HS saying “look at your hands!”. I am not diabetic but I do have another autoimmune disease. Coincidence? Umm I wonder.

  11. big al
    big al December 6, 2005 at 3:31 pm | | Reply

    I have Raynaud’s all the classic symptoms. In cold weather I wear mitts where all my fingers are together. No diabetes, or high blood pressure etc., but I am getting old.

  12. Annie
    Annie December 6, 2005 at 7:21 pm | | Reply

    Well, Reynauds was the beginning of my long journey to a CREST (scleroderma) diagnosis, and I have found that many lupus patients and other’s with “connective tissue disease” or “vascular collagen disease” tend to get it. Please note, the “R” in the acronym “CREST” stands for Reynauds. I get spasms in my lungs when I breathe in cold air. I think that the spasms in my gut, referred to generally as IBS, but gets worse with cold temperatures, may have something to do with whatever it was that set off the Reynaud’s in the first place. I live in South Florida. Arguably the mildest climate in the country, arguable with a person in SOCAL. I am on calcium channel blockers. I heal slow in the extremities, and minor injuries to them are paid careful attention to. Sitting under the AC outflow sets me off, into dead hands and feet and uncontollable shivering. I have found that it is a difference in temperature, not the temperature itself, that sets off the spasms. There is no doubt in my mind that many diabetics suffer from Reynaud’s, just as many with MS and other neurological disorders, suffer from Reynaud’s. I just think there is something going on that “they” are not getting. This all started about 5 years ago, and was a huge shock and changed my life forever.

    I guess I am just venting, but there you are. Thanks for listening.

    One last thing, a Reynaud’s patient should NEVER use warm water to rewarm the hands. Hands in your armpits is much better. In the midst of a spasm, you could be pouring boiling water over your extremities, and have no idea how hot the water is. At least with the armpit thing, though it may look odd, you are only getting 98.6.

  13. eddie
    eddie December 8, 2005 at 4:23 am | | Reply

    a lot of people have diabetes.
    a lot of people have raynaud’s phenomenon.

    just because someone has both does not necessarily mean that they are related.

    furthermore, raynaud’s tend to affect apparently healthy young women, whereas diabetes (type II) affect older, obese men and women.

  14. eddie
    eddie December 8, 2005 at 4:29 am | | Reply

    ops, i did not notice that the author suffers from type I diabetes, which is an autoimmune condition.

    Well, since some women with raynaud’s go on to develop an autoimmune disease, there could well be a link between type I diabetes and raynaud’s phenomenon.

  15. Sayra
    Sayra December 12, 2005 at 6:10 pm | | Reply

    Has anyone ever heard of a connection with Raynaud’s and hypothyroidism??? I thought I read that somewhere but now I can’t find the reference.

  16. AmyT
    AmyT December 13, 2005 at 8:36 am | | Reply

    Hi Sayra,
    That would make sense to me, as I also have hypothyroidism. Let me know if you find any facts on the connection.


  17. May
    May December 23, 2005 at 5:22 pm | | Reply

    It was after I was diagnosed as Type II diabetic that I have Raynaud’s. I have never experienced this condition before being diabetic.

  18. deb harpster
    deb harpster January 24, 2006 at 5:30 pm | | Reply

    has anyone suffered with ms and raynaud’s
    syndrome? somehow, i have found links with
    lupus, diabetes, but not ms. my sister (who lives
    in cold quebec) has developed what looks like
    raynaud’s…she was diagnosed with ms about
    15 years ago and she is becoming more and more
    “compromised” everyday. (secondary progressive
    type) any infomation would be very appreciated!
    my thanks,
    a big sis, deb

  19. June B. Charyton
    June B. Charyton January 27, 2006 at 4:56 pm | | Reply

    My daughter age 35 has been diagnosed with Raynaud’s Syndrome. I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism at age 52. My parents both had Type II diabetes.

  20. S. Gross
    S. Gross January 28, 2006 at 12:28 pm | | Reply

    I have been diagnosed with this disease, however I do not experience the white, blueish, or blackening of the fingers or toes. I only have swollen, red , painfully, itching toes. What do you think? Maybe a wrong diagnosis?

  21. Aphigirl74@aol.com
    Aphigirl74@aol.com February 13, 2006 at 3:05 pm | | Reply

    Is there any medicine that can be taken for Raynaud’s Syndrome? What if the individual is diabetic, can they take the same medicine? Is it something you eventually grow out of? At what age does this syndrome start developing? Thank you for answering my questions

  22. AmyT
    AmyT February 14, 2006 at 8:59 am | | Reply

    Hi Aphigirl,
    I’m afraid I am not a doctor; if you need that level of detail on Raynaud’s, I think I’d better refer you to one.


  23. Mike Griffith
    Mike Griffith February 16, 2006 at 11:53 am | | Reply

    I just recently started having the symtoms, ie: cold hand, white numb fingers, followed by blue fingers. I recently started lifting weights and training with machines where I am pulling on cold bars, etc. I wondered if this could have any affect on the symtoms?

  24. MAD
    MAD March 15, 2006 at 9:43 am | | Reply

    I have had Raynauds since I was 18 – I am a 30 year old woman – I have hypothyroidism, allergies, low boold sugar, low blood pressure and various other autoimmune symptoms – the best I have been told is that on a regular basis people with autoimmune symptoms should be tested for diabetes, lupus and other diseases. The connection being that they are all autoimmune related.

  25. susan shaw
    susan shaw June 26, 2006 at 10:24 am | | Reply

    I just recently found out I have raynauds. The biggest problem for me was my toes would get big,red,swollen and itchy. My toes and fingers also go numb when I get cold. This is all new to me, looking back I can see that I have had this problem for quiet a few years just wasn’t painful or bothersome enough until just recently to have a doctor look at me.

  26. Bev Norris
    Bev Norris July 27, 2006 at 11:11 pm | | Reply

    Hi, I live in Australia, South Coast NSW we have a mild climate. I have Raynauds also am diabetes, suffer with Tophi gout, and have Polymyalgia rheumatica. I have had Raynauds for three years, my son, (43) said if I just “get over my hypochondria” I wouldn’t worry about symptoms of imagery ailments, for which I am paying a lot of cash to Doctors and having lots of tests!!!! Why do families insist that the only pain that is real is what they have.

  27. jane
    jane September 17, 2006 at 3:23 pm | | Reply

    a friend of mine says she tried & liked some new fir gloves that are supposed to help this condition. I did a search online and found some gloves at: raynaudsgloves.com
    I don’t know for sure if these were the ones or not but you might want to give them a try.

  28. Jean Doyle
    Jean Doyle September 26, 2006 at 6:24 pm | | Reply

    I have had reynaunds since I was a very young girl and now I have crest and I am on oxygen 24-7.I have also had lung&breast cancer.I am now 74 yrs.old and doing as well as can be expected. I try to wear mittens as they work the best.I like to read what others have had and the help for it. Not much for crest!

  29. Missy
    Missy November 10, 2006 at 2:54 pm | | Reply

    i am 35 and i have Cerebral palsy , spina bifida and have Raynauds Syndrome I’m just looking for some information on how to control the Raynauds syndrome better if anyone has any ideas they would be helpful ,

  30. Martha Blackburn
    Martha Blackburn March 9, 2007 at 5:47 pm | | Reply

    I have Raynaud’s and it seems to have gotten worse since I started taking blood pressure medicine – I have a genetic kidney disease and am trying to keep BP low to maintain long-lasting kidneys. No diabetes diagnosis for me. I wonder if the lowering of blood pressure has made the finger/toe/nose circulation worse. (btw my fingers only turn white, no other strange colors) :)

  31. Erin
    Erin July 17, 2007 at 11:30 am | | Reply

    I am a 36 yr old woman and have type 1 diabetes that has been well controlled for 31 years. Three months ago I was diagnosed with Celiac disease and then this month I was diagnosed with Raynaud’s! I believe they are all autoimmune disorders.

    At first when my fingers got cold, my finger tips would turn pure white…then red/purple. More recently I have been left with purple patches that don’t go away on these fingers.

    My Dr did say that Viagra is helpful. I haven’t tried it yet. I have been referred to a specialist, so I will wait to hear what he has to say.

    Has anyone else experienced the purple patches that don’t go away?

  32. suzie
    suzie November 6, 2007 at 1:27 pm | | Reply

    hi all, I have only had raynauds for 4 years,But it has affected my hands ,feet, knee’s lips and sometimes the sides of my nose. Maybe even my ears( I can’t see them) Mine is supposed to be because I have a connetive tissue desise. I have taken many meds and even virigra and nothing helps, this happens some times 10 to 12 times a day, sometimes even lasting up tp an hour Does anyone know anything to help??? I do live in the midwestso it is cold here.

  33. jessica rowland
    jessica rowland January 4, 2008 at 10:18 pm | | Reply

    I was diagnosed with Raynauds 4 years ago and 2 years later i was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes… Definitly seems that there is a connection. It also seems that i now have endometriosis, i have been trying to find some info if it is linked to diabetes too. I have found only a small amount of info.

  34. c davies
    c davies February 29, 2008 at 3:50 am | | Reply

    Hi All,

    I am 30 yrs of age and have had type 1 diabetes for 28 yrs, i have suffered with raynauds syndrome for about 10yrs and have now been diagnosed with hypothyroidism.
    I have found this after searching for some connection between these conditions, i have actually become a bit obsessed trying to associate all the diseases and symptoms and have been concerned that i may have another underlying autoimmune disease such as lupus or fibromyalgia.
    I also am a mother and have become scared now of the possibility of a hereditary factor.I have 2 previous generations in my familly that MS has appeared.
    Thanks to tis site though atleast i am now confident that there is a connection and i can take this to my doc on Tuesday as ammunition for maybe having some further investigations done. Many Thanks

  35. SaraDoll
    SaraDoll March 19, 2008 at 2:34 pm | | Reply

    My hands and feet have been having the pins and needles feeling for a long time, it was yesterday though that my fingers went completely white. I was terrified. I thought I was dying or something. It was very disturbing. Then I came online today and found a name for it. Raynauds. Who knew. I have been to my regular MD and recently went through painful nerve testing to figure out what was wrong with me. They said it was all in my head. I knew better. I’m glad to know I am not alone, there is a name, I’m not going to turn white all over and die and yes, I too am a DIABETIC. Do any of you also have Lupus or any of the other things they say you get in combination with the Raynauds Phenomenon?

  36. julie
    julie October 23, 2008 at 2:19 pm | | Reply

    Hi there- I have reynaud’s syndrome- It started for me about 8 years ago at the age of 34, and I am not a diabetic (not even close). I do, however, have very low blood pressure, which I think is related somehow. I live in the midwest with rough winters, and it only bothers me when the temp drops below 60 degrees (or a bit lower).

  37. julie raynaud
    julie raynaud March 4, 2010 at 11:47 am |

    [...] | Features | Top 100 | Links | Shop | History | Feedback. Copyright ©2010, Britmovie.co.uk … (Devilish) Raynaud's Syndrome – DiabetesMine: the all …Ever heard of Raynaud's Syndrome? Nobody seems to be able to confirm whether this odd circulation [...]

  38. Katie S
    Katie S April 10, 2010 at 6:11 pm | | Reply

    Wow, Amy! I think we have some crazy parallel disease thing going on. I was just dx’ed with Raynaud’s and have been experiencing some painful “attacks”, so I was googling for its association with type 1 diabetes and hypothyroidism (which I’m borderline for) and found this post. So we are not only type 1 and GF pals, but hypothyroid and Raynaud’s as well! Cheers. Anything else coming in my future that you can give me the heads up on? ;)

  39. Charlene Rushing
    Charlene Rushing July 26, 2010 at 2:07 pm | | Reply

    At age 35, I was diagnosed with Raynaud’s in 1996, the year I completed chemo for breast cancer. A few years later I was diagnosed with Scleroderma. I use disposable Hot Hands that hunters use. I just carry one around in each hand, and it helps a lot. I also use my blow dryer to warm my hands. And I sleep on a heated mattress pad. Air conditioning also bothers me. I keep gloves in my purse at all times. Mittens work better; but gloves help too, and I can still use my hands/fingers with gloves. I wear SmartWool socks especially during the winter. I’ve had surgery on my thumb to remove a crystallization. I now have crystallizations on 3 more of my fingers and my thumb again. My new rheumatologist recently prescribed gout medicine to hopefully dissolve these rather than having them excised.

  40. Living With Raynaud’s Phenomenon
    Living With Raynaud’s Phenomenon June 26, 2012 at 9:23 am |

    [...] me quite a while to dig up. But anecdotally, I know that I am not alone in suffering from both. A post I wrote at my own site, DiabetesMine back in 2005, got over 35 responses – which confirmed the [...]

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