HOW DOES A DOCTOR DIAGNOSE RAYNAUD'S?
Even though it is understudied and under diagnosed, it is fairly easy to determine if a person has Raynaud’s based on the visual color changes in the skin. The difficulty lies in identifying whether a person has the primary or the secondary form of the disease.
Doctors (typically a Rheumatologist) will diagnose which form it is using a complete history, an exam, and tests. Tests may include:
- Blood tests
- Looking at fingernail tissue with a microscope.
- Cold simulation test
- Patient description of symptoms
Treatment aims to:
- Reduce how many attacks you have
- Make attacks less severe
- Prevent tissue damage
- Prevent loss of tissue.
Primary Raynaud’s does not often lead to tissue damage, so non-drug treatments are typically pursued first. Treatment with medicine is more common with severe Raynaud’s where patients are at a high risk of tissue loss.
Severe cases of Raynaud’s can lead to sores or gangrene (tissue death) in the fingers and toes. These cases can be painful and hard to treat. In severe cases that cause skin ulcers and serious tissue damage, surgery may be used to deaden the nerves around the affected area.
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