Raynaud’s is a condition that affects the blood supply in the body’s extremities – usually the fingers and toes but it can affect the ears, nose, lips, tongue and nipples – and many people living with the condition will regularly experience colour changes to the affected area, pain and discomfort.
For people living with Raynaud’s, a trip down the frozen aisle of the supermarket or simply sitting in an air-conditioned office, anytime of the year, can trigger a painful attack for up to 1 in 6 people in the UK. During winter these attacks usually become more frequent as the weather turns colder.
Claire Miller told us:
“I struggle with watching my boys play football, as my feet and hands will go numb and painful despite wrapping up and taking my medication. Even chopping vegetables can be dangerous.”
Sue Farrington, Chief Executive of Scleroderma & Raynaud’s UK (SRUK) the only charity dedicated to support people affected by Raynaud’s explains:
“Up to 10 million people in the UK are affected by Raynaud’s yet many living with the condition are not aware they have it or that support and treatment[ii] is available. Research we comissioned over the last year reveals that only 4% are able to identify the symptoms of Raynaud’s. SRUK is tackling this lack of understanding by getting everyone to #KnowRaynaud’s during February”.
So how do you know if you have Raynaud’s? Well, if you experience the following symptoms this is usually a clear sign that you have the condition:
– Cold toes and fingers
– Colour changes in the skin in response to cold or stress
– Colour changes in the affected area to white, to blue and then red
– Numbness, tingling or pain in the fingers/ toes
– Stinging or throbbing pain upon warming
If you aren’t sure or you think you may have Raynaud’s, SRUK have launched a simple online test accessible via their website, to help identify if you have the condition. At the end of the test you will receive a diagnosis screen and advice about further steps to take, which could include top tips on keeping warm or downloadable information to take to your GP.
For many with Raynaud’s it will be a mild inconvenience but for 1 in 10 people affected by Raynaud’s they will go on to develop an autoimmune condition like scleroderma (which can cause disability and can be life-threatening), Arthritis or lupus, which may need further treatment and close monitoring.