Raynaud disease is a disorder of unknown cause (idiopathic) that is characterized by episodes of sudden spasms, or constriction, of small arteries in the hands and feet, resulting in greatly reduced blood supply. Raynaud disease is more common in women than men, and its onset usually occurs in young adulthood. The affected areas will show a color change, going from pallor to blue or red. Intermittent constriction is triggered by cold or emotional upset. The right and left digits are affected simultaneously; in about half the cases, only the hands are involved.
The disease may improve quickly, remain mild, or grow progressively worse. More rarely, blood clots and gangrene may complicate progressive cases. Pain is uncommon, but numbness and tingling sensations frequently occur. Drugs that dilate arteries may be used long term. Attacks may be terminated by keeping the hands and feet warm. The use of tobacco aggravates the problem, because it causes arteries to constrict.
When the condition is secondary to another disorder, it is called Raynaud phenomenon. Treatment then depends on the cause of the disorders.