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Possible Causes of Raynaud’s Disease

Dr. Micha Abeles

Accomplished private practice rheumatologist Dr. Micha Abeles is board-certified in internal medicine and rheumatology. Dr. Micha Abeles has previously worked as a professor of medicine for the University of Connecticut and over the years has completed numerous research projects, book chapters, and presentations on such subjects as Raynaud’s disease.

A hyperactivation of the sympathetic nervous system, Raynaud’s disease, or Raynaud’s phenomenon, occurs when the blood vessels in the feet and hands overreact to stress or cold temperatures. When exposed to stress or cold, the arteries in the fingers and toes become narrow and limit blood supply. These arteries often thicken over time, thus limiting blood further.

Scientists are still unclear about what causes the arteries to narrow and thicken. Primary Raynaud’s disease is the most common form of Raynaud’s and occurs without any associated health condition. It is believed that there is a genetic component to primary Raynaud’s, but research has yet to fully prove this.

Secondary Raynaud’s occurs when there is an underlying medical issue present. Although it is less common, secondary Raynaud’s is normally more serious. In this situation, the issue can result from a disease of the arteries, such as Buerger’s syndrome or atherosclerosis, or from connective tissue diseases, such as scleroderma. Secondary Raynaud’s may also be caused by smoking, repetitive actions, carpal tunnel, or such infections as hepatitis C. Lymphoma and multiple myeloma have been linked to the disease, as have certain anti-migraine, beta-blocker, and contraceptive medications.


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