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Raynaud's Disease

The Chill Factor: Raynaud's Disease

I was teaching a yoga class the other day, and when this woman took off her socks before class, her friend said, "What's up with your toes?" Her big toe and the toe next to it were completely whitish-green, and the others looked normal. She told us she had something called Raynaud's disease. It's a condition that most commonly affects your fingers and toes but can also affect your nose or ears. It makes them become numb and feel cool, and it's a response to cold temperatures or stress. It's really common in women and in people who live in colder climates.

It's not the same as frostbite, which happens when your tissues freeze and can permanently damage the affected area. With Raynaud's disease, arteries to your fingers and toes go into what's called a vasospasm, which constricts the blood vessels and temporarily limits the blood supply to those areas, causing them to turn pale. Once the spasms stop, the area may turn red, but then goes back to its normal coloring.

This condition may occur alone or may be caused by something else, such as lupus, arthritis, carpel tunnel syndrome, thyroid disorders, genetics, or smoking. If you think you may have Raynaud's disease, make an appointment with your doctor to have it checked out.


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