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Diseases > Raynaud’s Phenomenon (RP) > What can I do about it?

What can I do about Raynaud’s?

If you have just been diagnosed with Raynaud’s, don’t panic. Take a deep breath. Although you might have been diagnosed with Raynaud’s, you are not alone. Luckily, there are effective treatments available. Even if they don’t cure Raynaud’s, they can make living with the condition much more comfortable.

Seeing your family doctor should be a priority. Often times, your family doctor can help you effectively manage Raynaud’s symptoms. If your symptoms are more severe or if they do not respond to initial treatments, you may be referred to a rheumatologist. A rheumatologist is a specialist doctor who is an expert in treating arthritis and other types of autoimmune diseases. This type of doctor is in the best position to help you manage your condition.

Here are some recommendations on what you should do:

  1. Learn as much as you can about this disease. Education is very powerful and we’ve aimed to develop this RheumInfo website to be accessible and easy to understand for everyday people living with Raynaud’s.
  2. Attend your rheumatologist appointments regularly
  3. Get your blood tests done as suggested by your rheumatologist
  4. Learn about the medications used to treat Raynaud’s. The RheumInfo website has many interactive and valuable tools to help you understand these medications and their impact on your disease

Treatment of Raynaud’s

One of the best things that you can do to manage the symptoms of Raynaud’s is to keep warm. It’s important to not only keep your hands and feet warm, but keep your whole body as warm as possible. When your whole body is warm, it’s easier for your heart to pump warm blood to your extremities. Here are a few tips for keeping your whole body warm when the temperatures are cold:

  1. Wear long underwear, sweaters, scarves, mittens and socks
  2. Wear gloves or mittens when handling cold objects (e.g., taking something from the freezer)
  3. Avoid stress and learn to cope with emotionally stressful situations
  4. If you are a smoker, quitting can be one of the best things you can do for your health and to improve your Raynaud’s

Medications for Raynaud’s

Medication for Raynaud’s is used only when keeping warm isn’t sufficient to control your symptoms.  If medication is required, the first choice is usually a calcium channel blocker (CCB). This is a type of medication called an antihypertensive or blood pressure lowering medication. Examples include long-acting nifedipine, amlodipine or felodipine.

If a CCB isn’t sufficient to control your symptoms or if you can’t tolerate it, there are many other options you could try. Other effective therapies include sildenafil (Viagra) or tadalafil (Cialis) taken in lower doses. Losartan is another type of blood pressure medication that has been useful in some people with Raynaud’s. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as fluoxetine and alpha blockers such as prazosin have all been used to improve symptoms of Raynaud’s. In very severe cases that have lead to ulcers or gangrene, a medication called iloprost may be given by intravenous infusion in a hospital setting.

Medications for Raynaud’s are usually taken only when you need them or as instructed by your doctor. Many patients will take medication regularly during the winter or when they know they will be spending extended amounts of time in a colder environment.

For more detailed information about specific medications used to treat Raynaud’s, refer to the Medications Section of RheumInfo.com.

Exercises for Raynaud’s

No exercises have been found specifically to help with Raynaud’s Phenomenon. However, exercise is a great way to relieve stress and live a happier, healthier lifestyle. If you’ve been diagnosed with Raynaud’s it’s a good idea to remain active in whichever way pleases you most, be it swimming, walking, running, yoga classes or other activities. You may need to take special care when participating in outdoor sports during the winter by wearing appropriate clothing and protection to keep your body and your extremities warm.

Natural or Home Remedies for Raynaud’s

There are no known natural remedies or complementary therapies that have been proven to help Raynaud’s in any significant way. However, there are plenty of herbs and vitamins on the market that claim to improve symptoms of Raynaud’s. Remember – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Biofeedback has been tested as a way to control vital functions with relaxation techniques but this too hasn’t proven very useful in people with Raynaud’s. Many creams and lotions are available to apply to the hands but are seldom effective. Keep in mind that when choosing natural or home remedies you should always check with your doctor to ensure that they will not interfere with any of the other medication(s) you might be taking.

Diet for Raynaud’s

Questions about diet and Raynaud’s are very common. We all want to know what we can do to help ourselves. Can we change our diet to improve our health and help our condition? Changing our diet gives us a sense of control over a disease which often seems to have a mind of its own.

Unfortunately, there is no diet that has been proven to significantly improve symptoms of Raynaud’s. Following the basics of healthy eating can help improve health and well-being in everyone, including those with Raynaud’s.

Alcohol and Raynaud’s

Many of us like to share a glass of wine, a beer, or a spirit from time to time. Alcoholic beverages have not been shown to be an effective treatment for Raynaud’s. They can also interact with some medications.

Smoking and Raynaud’s

Smoking itself can trigger vasospasm in your arterioles. This can exacerbate your Raynaud’s symptoms or make them worse.

Cigarette smoking, whether you have Raynaud’s or not, has no positive effects on any aspect of your health. If you are a smoker with Raynaud’s, quitting could be one of the best things you can do to improve your overall health.