Raynaud's Phenomenon

View All Arthritis Types

Raynaud's phenomenon is a condition resulting from poor circulation in the extremities (i.e., fingers and toes). In a person with Raynaud's phenomenon, when his or her skin is exposed to cold or the person becomes emotionally upset, the blood vessels under the skin tighten and the blood flow slows. This is called vasospasm. Hands and feet have fewer large blood vessels and, therefore, when a vasospasm occurs, it is harder for the blood to keep flowing and these areas may turn blue because less oxygen is reaching the skin. The skin will also feel cold because less blood is reaching the skin to keep it warm. While attacks of vasospasm may last from minutes to hours, only rarely do they cause severe tissue damage.

Raynaud's phenomenon is named after the French doctor Maurice Raynaud, who first described the condition in the mid-1800s. The condition is also known as Raynaud's syndrome or Raynaud's disease.

View All Arthritis Types
How common is Raynaud's phenomenon?
What are the warning signs of Raynaud's phenomenon?
What causes Raynaud's phenomenon?

Establishing the correct diagnosis is important, because something can be done to manage most forms of arthritis, and most therapies work best when started early in the disease.

Your doctor may be able to diagnose Raynaud's phenomenon based on a review of your medical history and by observing the effect of cold on areas such as your fingers. Sometimes your doctor may order certain tests, such as blood flow tests, to help confirm the diagnosis or to distinguish among different diseases.

Although there is no cure for Raynaud's phenomenon there are things you can do to help manage the condition. Your active involvement in developing your prescribed treatment plan is essential.

Protect Your Body
Arthritis medications are designed to control a disease, slow its progression, and to help manage pain. There is a wide range of options – with new ones coming on the horizon – so understanding all possible treatments is not easy. 

These medications can be very complex, so you are encouraged to ask for in-depth explanations from your health care team – including pharmacists, who are an excellent source of information. 

To explore this area of treatment, The Arthritis Society has developed a comprehensive expert guide that delivers detailed information on medications used to treat arthritis.

Explore the Arthritis Medications A Reference Guide

The optimal treatment is what is best in each individual case – so speak with your doctor and/or pharmacist about what kind of medications are most appropriate for you.

Educational Programs 

The Arthritis Society provides a range of in-person workshops and online programs, all with a specific focus in mind. They include chronic pain management, overcoming fatigue, understanding your health-care team, symptom checkers, and more. Participants learn new information and skills, and for in-person workshops, can share ideas and experiences with others.

Explore arthritis workshops and courses


Discover information you can trust, because it’s based on evidence and vetted by experts, in The Society’s resource area. Learn about each disease, possible treatments, self-management, lifestyle issues, and so much more.

Browse publications

Discover More Discover More

online education module
Online Arthritis Self Management Courses

Online education programs that are informative, convenient and FREE.

Arthritis Community
Arthritis Community

Connect with others, share your arthritis experience and get answers in a safe online space.

Printed publications
Arthritis Publications

Evidence-based content to help you learn about the disease, treatments and self-management.