Signs and Symptoms of Raynaud's Disease

Symptoms of Raynaud's disease may vary. In many cases, the condition begins with feelings of numbness. The affected area often turns white (called pallor) because of decreased blood flow and then may turn blue (called cyanosis) because the area is not getting enough oxygen. Swelling also may occur and the patient may lose feeling in the affected area.

When the area is warmed or stress is relieved, blood flow resumes causing the area to turn red (called rubor). At this point, symptoms may include throbbing or prickling pain.

The common white-to-blue-to-red sequence can vary and some patients may not experience all symptoms. In some cases, Raynaud's does not affect the same area each time. For example, just one or two fingers or toes may be involved.

Each Raynaud's attack lasts about 15 minutes. Some patients experience attacks every day and others have them less frequently. Usually, attacks become more severe the longer the person has Raynaud's.

Complications of Raynaud's Disease

In severe cases of Raynaud's, blood flow to fingers and toes can stop completely, causing deformities and leading to skin ulcers (sores) or gangrene (tissue death, necrosis).

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 03 Nov 2008

Last Modified: 21 Sep 2010