View Full Version : Raynaud's Syndrome

04-19-2005, 11:37 AM
Over the last month or so I've been experiencing the symptoms of Raynaud's Syndrome and was just wondering how common it is. The literature I've read notes that it's very common in women over 35.

As far as I can tell I think it was caused (exacerbated?) by a very slight case of frostbite to my pointer, middle, and ring fingers that I got in December. Not a bad case, but enough for me to notice some real tissue damage.

The literature doesn't seem to address the issue of timing/onset of symptoms. For example, for the last two evening rides that I've done, I get a little chilly going downhill--nothing I don't normally expose myself to--and about 20 minutes after I'm done with the ride and sitting around, my fingers go completely white and numb and stay that way for about a half hour. Why afterwards and not during? It is supposedly the body's "extreme" reaction to cold (for unknown reasons, apparently). It would make more sense if it was 5 minutes after I am no longer exposed, but 20 minutes???

And it is further perplexing in that I am normally one of those that gets overheated fairly easily (and consequently melt into a blob of useless flesh). So my goal is to dress a little more warmly and try to get over the mental block that seems to accompany overheating. It doesn't really hurt or anything...it just feels really bizarre and make eating difficult!!

Anyone else with this? What do you notice about onset? Is it better to keep the core warm or the extremities warm?


04-19-2005, 12:51 PM
I don't have Raynauds Syndrome but I Can explain about the 20 mins delay. I noticed this past winter when I rode that about 30-45 mins after I got to work - I got Really cold all over - as in chilly, shivering cold. I would drink some hot tea and be fine. Then it would happen again when I got home. I finally figured out it was my core cooling down which for whatever reason took that long to cool. It always seems to take my hands and feet longer to warm up once the cool-down happens but I keep fingerless gloves here at work and have a footrest heater so that was a big help. I'm guessing it's taking about 20 mins for your body to stop pumping blood to the extremeties to keep them warm so that's why you're noticing the coldness and whiteness then instead of during your ride. As for keeping what warm - you lose a Lot of heat from the top of your head and your extremeties is the First place your body will pull warmth. So cover your head and your fingers and toes. Hmmm......just occurred to me, if I kept a hat on when I was done riding, I might not cool down so fast!!!!.....thoughts for next winter!

04-19-2005, 01:02 PM
I've experienced the symptoms of Reynaud's Syndrome for the past couple of years. I'm not sure what brought it on for me but I do know that I have to be careful not to get even a little bit cold because I can suddenly feel extremely cold, even on a warm day. The main symptoms for me are the white/numb hands although if it gets really bad, I can feel cold all over.

I don't know why there's a delayed onset of symptoms after a ride. I think maybe your core temperature stays up for awhile after exercise so maybe that's why. I find that even on the warmest days, I need to change out of my sweaty clothes immediately following a ride. It seems like adding wet clothing to the body's natural cooling mechanism is a big trigger for me.

I've found that, at a minimum, I need to keep my core warm. Depending on how cold it is outside (or in the room), I may need to work on keeping my extremities warm too. An example of this is that I have a hard time wearing sandals in air-conditioned buildings in the summer. My feet start going white/numb!

04-19-2005, 02:42 PM
I don't have RS, at least that I'm aware of, but I've always had trouble staying warm. It doesn't matter what climate I'm in.

Here in New England I'm always cold at night... really cold. This winter I started wearing a little fleece hat in the house and immediately noticed the difference. My hands and feet didn't get as cold and I didn't get the shivers.

Try putting a little warm dry hat on when you come in to help get warm.

*I even slept in mine a couple of nights. :cool:

04-19-2005, 04:43 PM
I didn't think about a hat afterwards. I'll try that this evening. (I usually wear a head cover while cycling). The weird thing is that the fingers do not feel cold...just weird. And they are really, really white. Spooky-Casper-the-Ghost white.

Spazz...I've slept in a hat AND gloves before, though not in a long time!

I'll let you know if anything changes with this minor modification.

Bike Goddess
04-19-2005, 04:48 PM
Thanks for the info ladies! :D I get cold easily after I ride as well. I especially noticed it this winter when I was doing rides in fog and 40 degree weather. When we would stop at our mid point coffee shop, I would go into the bathroom and use the hand dryer to get my clothes dry and my skin warm so I could get home comfortably (it worked). I don't seem to hold heat very well! Especially since I have lost so much weight.

I'll look up the syndrome-never had a name for this condition. Used to get this way after running marathons as well.

04-19-2005, 04:49 PM
I sleep under a down comforter year round. I wear flannel jammie bottoms. And I wear a fleece hat in the house.


04-19-2005, 05:17 PM
My son, who raced as a Cat 3 cyclist in high school has Raynauds. Being warm in your core does not stop the symptoms in your hands and feet. Just being exposed cold causes it. Generally, gloves and covering up don't help. He developed this at about age 14.It just got worse and worse. He was miserable until he researched a surgery done to correct this, that is not performed here in the mecca of medicine (Boston). My husband took him to San Antonio to the only dr. that does this. They go in through your armpit with a laser and cut one of the nerves to stop the symptoms. The surgery was originally developed for people with excessive sweating. It worked within hours. The only side effect is that he sweats a lot in his core, if he gets really hot. He only had to be in Texas for 2 days and felt good enough to go to Austin the same night as the surgery to check out Lance's town!

04-19-2005, 07:32 PM
Robyn-I'm glad they were able to find a solution. Sounds like his case was pretty extreme. Mine right now is just perplexing and annoying. I'm hopeful that it won't move beyond that. It's really a very strange feeling, especially in light of the fact that my hands don't feel cold (perhaps because I can't feel them??). I remember the day I damaged the digits...it was a great day of backcountry skiing in fresh snow, but it was probably close to 0 F. That's pretty cold for CA! (OK, I was at close to 10000' but that's still cold for midday!)

I know it's more than just being cold. While I used to be much more sensitive to cold, I've adapted over the years (living in a semi cold place and doing lots of activites in the cold) and really now am super sensitive to heat. Being overheated makes me very cranky; being a little cold is not a big deal. Since I figured out what to wear (duh! they don't teach you that on the sunny coast of CA, which is where I grew up), I can pretty much say that I haven't been miserably cold in a very, very long time (though miserably hot on a regular basis). I think that maybe the wind chill effect on the fingers, even through full gloves, could be triggering it, which is consistent with Robyn's experience with her son.

04-19-2005, 09:13 PM
I have raynauds too, It can be heraditary, my neice also has it. It is sometimes a sighn of cardiovasuclar problems, do those run in your family? Heart disease is my familys No#1 killer on both sides. Stress can also trigger an attack or frequency of them. Iv'e had my index finger turn dead white and numb while folding warm laundry on an 80 degree day so cold is definately not the only trigger. It can get worse. Mine has progressed over the years but I have not had a problem in a long time. My index fingers and pinky fingers do it sometimes and its so weird. snow white and knumb like theres not a drop of blood in there its really freaky and it hurts. try massage and warm water. :eek:

04-19-2005, 10:49 PM
My dad has had this issue for some time and unfortunately I do tend to suffer as well...so my conclusion is that it is that it is hereditary. Circulatory system is not the best in the family tree. Even mother side with varicose veins...oh yeah...I like the color blue, when it is not poking out of my skin :P

I have even noticed having it (RS) once in a very AC room.
It is usually affecting only my pointer fingers, so far, but who knows what time will hand me later?!

04-20-2005, 03:13 AM
My daughter has it and even a cool room can set it off. Just like the others said, spooky Casper the Ghost white toes until we rubbed them back to life. No pain, no sensation of cold. Boy, did it scare us the first time it happened!! It must be quite common.

04-20-2005, 05:22 AM
This is a great thread! I have been experiencing cold numb white fingers all winter! I spoke to my dr. he said it probably wasn't Raynauds but that I was having vessel spasms. It happens only in my middle fingers of each hand and has happened once in my toes on one foot. My fingers go numb often, mainly when my hands get really cold or if I am holding a cold drink too long.

I also have a hard time staying warm since I lost weight, I seem to be cold all the time. I never take my socks off b/c my feet are always cold and usually my hands are too.

One thing someone told me who is into the reflexology is to pull the fingers that are numb and make the knuckle at your hand pop, I have done that and it "seems" to help them get warm faster, I usually warm them under warm water or stick my hand under my armpit, probably the only warm place after a cold workout outside. I also do some competative shooting, it is quite difficult to shoot with numb fingers, I take along those hand warmers that hunters use, they help some.

04-20-2005, 02:53 PM
I have RS also...I started to notice after minor frostbite while skiing about 15 years ago. It usually only affects two adjacent fingers on my off hand. I often get it while cycling in temperatures as warm as 50 degrees. For me it's not a core temperature issue, just cold exposure to my digits! It helps to move the fingers a lot. I open and close them with my palms on the bar. It often takes me 15-20 minutes to get the blood flowing in the cadaver- like fingers. Tight gloves also exacerbate the problem. I always buy ladies large or men's small gloves.