Table of Contents
Symptoms and Complications
Raynaud's phenomenon is often the first sign of the scleroderma disease process. With this condition, small blood vessels constrict in the fingers, toes, ears, and sometimes even the nose.
Attacks of Raynaud's phenomenon can occur several times a day, and are often brought on or worsened by exposure to cold. Warmth relieves these attacks. In severe cases, attacks can develop regardless of the temperature. Severe cases may also cause open sores or damage to the skin and bones, if the circulation is cut off for too long.
Typically, the fingers go through three color changes:
- First, they become very pale.
- As the blood flow is cut off, they turn a bluish color, usually in the top two sections of the second and third fingers.
- Finally, when blood flow returns, the fingers become red.
Tingling and pain can occur in the affected regions.
|Click the icon to see an image of Raynaud's phenomenon.|
Raynaud's is very common and occurs in 3 - 5% of the general population. It's important to note that more than 80% of patients with Raynaud's phenomenon do not have scleroderma, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or other serious illnesses. Raynaud's is more likely to be a symptom of scleroderma or some other connective tissue disease if it develops after age 30, if it is severe, and if it is accompanied by other symptoms (such as skin changes and arthritis).
Course of Typical Skin Changes. The primary symptoms of scleroderma occur in the skin. They often take the following course:
Review Date: 01/04/2011
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.