MS and Raynaud's syndrome - what's the link?
We look at the connection between MS and Raynaud’s syndrome
Welcome to February, which is Raynaud’s awareness month.
Have you ever noticed one or two of your fingers turning white when they are cold? Raynaud’s syndrome, also known as Raynaud’s disease, is quite common in people with multiple sclerosis (MS) and causes parts of the body to turn white and become very cold and numb in response to the stress of cold temperature. It most commonly affects the fingers and toes, although it can also affect other areas.
There are two main types of Raynaud’s, primary and secondary. Primary tends to be quite mild, and doesn’t appear to occur as part of another medical condition.
Secondary Raynaud’s, also known as Raynaud’s phenomenon, occurs due to an underlying health condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis. It’s less common but it can be more serious.
MS is associated with secondary Raynaud’s. Experts think that MS can make blood vessels in your extremities to overreact to the cold, and you may experience Raynaud’s phenomenon.
For some people, emotional stress rather than the cold can trigger an attack.
How to treat Raynaud’s
It’s all about preventing an attack with this condition. Dress to keep the cold out. Wrap up really well before you go outside, and make sure your hands and feet are well insulated before you step out to prevent the cold air from reaching them.
Prepare your car before you set off on a drive by running the heater for a few minutes to warm up the air.
Hot food and drinks will keep you insulated from the inside.
Smoking is a big no-no – not only can it worsen MS, the chemicals contribute to the narrowing of the blood vessels, which can only make things worse.
For some people, taking food from the freezer or fridge can trigger an attack. If this is the case, keep gloves nearby to use for this.
Keep your extremities warm at night by wearing socks and mittens in bed when it’s cold.
Exercising regularly is important to keep a healthy circulation.