|Respond to Raynaud's ASAP
Arsenal of Rewarming Methods
Don't Bang Your Hands
Try Motion First
Moist Heat is Best
Windmills: Warning for Scleroderma
No matter how careful you are, a Raynaud's episode can happen anyway, and is important to respond to it immediately with re-warming until circulation is restored.
Never become complacent about an episode because just one prolonged instance of untended Raynaud's can lead to necrosis, gangrene, and amputation. Each episode should be considered an emergency.
Learn proper re-warming techniques and stock your home, car, and office with warm clothing and re-warmers.
Don't bang your hands against a hard surface or rub them vigorously, this actually damages blood vessels.
Firstly, try motion because you can do this immediately.
Secondly, try moist heat which is better than dry but in moderation, never overheat as too much heat also shuts down blood vessels prolonging the attack.
Raynaud's in scleroderma can become so severe as to require amputation so keeping aggressively warm as well as promptly treating all Raynaud's attacks is essential for all people with scleroderma. (Also see: What is Scleroderma?, Types of Scleroderma and Systemic Symptoms)
Just one prolonged instance of untended Raynaud's can lead to necrosis, gangrene, and possibly even amputation, so it should hold the status of an "emergency" and should never be ignored or postponed.
Create a whole arsenal of re-warming methods since what works at home (arm swirling or microwave grain bags) might not work in the grocery store (gloves or instant hand warmers), or in the office (where holding a warm mug might help.)
Learn proper re-warming techniques, and stock your home, car, and office with warm clothing and rewarmers. do not bang your hands against a hard surface, or rub them vigorously, because this further damages blood vessels.
Use moderate warmth: don't overheat! Too much heat also shuts down blood vessels and will prolong the attack.
Try motion first (simply because you can do this immediately, perhaps averting the need for further measures),and moist heat second.
Moist heat is always better than dry heat, so if you are trying a dry heat method without success, "upgrade" to warm, moist heat for improved results.
If you respond instantly to Raynaud's, just wiggling the hands or toes might be all it takes to restore circulation.
Swirl your arms around in the air, in large circles, until circulation returns. This can be very effective ! If causing a public scene bothers you, duck into a restroom to fling 'em around. Also use this method when other ones fail.
But only do windmills after your doctor has examined you and ruled out underlying problems. If you have damaged blood vessels caused by Scleroderma, for example, this type of activity can aggravate the problem, according to Dr. Wigley. (1)
The effects of upper and lower limb exercise on the microvascular reactivity in limited cutaneous systemic sclerosis (SSc) patients. Our results suggest that arm cranking has the potential to improve the microvascular endothelial function in SSc patients. PubMed, Arthritis Res Ther, 2018 Jun 5;20(1):112.
Run hands under warm (not hot) water, or hold feet under running water in the bathtub, or soak them in a pan of water.
Hold hands under your armpits, or between your legs. Cup them over your mouth and breath into them. Have your partner hold your hands (but not rub them, as this can be damaging.)
Used with care, microwave grain bags or hand warmers work great. You can buy grain bags (such as Bed Buddy) in drugstores or easily make your own Heatsock. Fill a sock or cloth bag with dried beans, corn or rice. Microwave for about 30 second.
Disposable hand warmers are small packets which when activated stay warm for 7 hours. They are very inexpensive and can usually be found in sporting goods stores or drug stores.
Heatsock: Directions For Making Microwavable Warming Bags ISN
If you have a doctor-prescribed paraffin (hot wax) machine and have been trained in its use by a physical therapist, this might also work for Raynaud's. However, for some people it may be too hot, and thus prolong the attack.
Raynaud's Phenomenon by Jay D. Coffman Get the most up-to-date knowledge concerning Raynaud's! "If you, or someone you know, has been diagnosed I (a fellow Raynaud's "sufferer") absolutely recommend it!" —Stephen
(1) Windmills not advised for Scleroderma patients with Raynaud's. Source: "Hopkins: Is Raynaud's a Predictor of Heart Disease?" by Fredrick M. Wigley, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Director of Molecular and Clinical Rheumatology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, August 19, 1998, Aetna InteliHealth.
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