Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Raynaud’s Disease

What IS that? 

That is exactly the question I asked my running buddy over a year ago when she told me I had the disease. 

Raynaud's Disease (pronounced ray-nohz and also known as Raynaud's Phenomenon) is a condition that causes some areas of your body (fingers, toes, nose, ears) to feel numb or cool in response to cold.  To get all scientific on you, the smaller arteries that supply blood to your fingers or toes narrow and limit blood circulation. The result of this is that the skin turns pale or even blue.  Once the area is warmed and blood flow returns, the affected area turns to red and then back to normal but is often accompanied by tingling or the "pins and needles" sensation. (source)

I actually have been dealing with this for a long time and didn't even know it.  It really only affects my hands.  Once my running buddy noticed my hands were really white after a long run last winter, she diagnosed it for me.  All this time I just thought that my hands were cold and it was all normal.


On every single winter run, I always wear gloves and my hands are always warm while I am running.  It is usually after the run that my hands start to go numb and white.  Back in November, I was running a track workout with my running club and it was pouring pretty hard. I had forgotten gloves and my hands were so cold they went white and then turned blue before finally warming back up and turning red.  In another case, I got into my car and didn't have gloves on - the steering wheel was cold and before I knew it my hands were numb and white.


It can be a simple case where I just touch something cold - the steering wheel, frozen foods; or it can be more drastic like what usually happens after my runs.  It isn't that painful, it is more annoying than anything else because my fingers are numb.  It makes grabbing items, buttoning pants, opening doors, taking off my running shoes and typing on a keyboard pretty difficult. 


There is a way to quickly warm  up your hands and return circulation.  Once my hands are white and numb, I run cold water and put them under the faucet (I know that seems weird).  I let the cold water run over my hands for a bit and then slowly turn on the hot water and increase the temperature.  This is the fastest way I have found to bring my hands back to life.  Sometimes I do get impatient and just stick my hands under hot water but it always make the "pins and needles" feeling worse and more painful. 

The warming up process can be done naturally by just going inside but I prefer to use the water method.  Letting my fingers warm up naturally usually takes a long time and can get pretty painful. 

The pictures above are a good representation of what happens on a normal day when I wear gloves and I am prepared for cold weather.  The best way I have found to avoid this is to use hand warmers; especially on the really cold days.  Always wearing gloves helps as well, although I can usually get away with not wearing gloves when the temperature is above 40F.


Do you have Raynaud's?  How do you handle keeping your hands warm in the winter?

16 comments:

kilax said...

One of my bestie's mom's has it and she uses those reusable hand warmers. It sounds like such a pain in the butt!

onelittletrigirl said...

My co-worker has it and uses the reusable hand warmers as well!

Lisa said...

Wow, I've never heard of this, thanks for sharing. I'm sure there are others out there who don't know that they have this disease too. So important for people to share experiences like this!

Sounds painful but it's great that you are able to get through it and have methods for dealing with it. This might sound stupid, but have you thought about moving to a warmer climate some day?

Robin said...

Wow that's something. Glad it's not painful because it looks like it would be.

Amy said...

Eek - that's crazy. I'm always afraid I'll get cold hands and end up sweating through a pair of too warm mitts. I need something in between my mini gloves and wooly mittens!

rungirl24 said...

If you ever have babies and breastfeed this is something to be aware of. It can make nursing painful cause the blood vessels can constrict in the same way when a baby is latched. My good friend had this happen. Just an FYI!

I Run for Fun said...

Interesting! Thanks for sharing. I don't know for sure, but I think I may have Raynaud's. My fingers (and sometimes toes) tend to get really cold. I used to run my frozen fingers under hot water and scream with pain after winter runs. It's gotten a lot better lately, but I still have to use warmer gloves than others do. I thought it was because I come from a warmer climate and my extremeties have not adjusted to the cold! I think I've gotten better, because of Tai chi exercises. The warm-up routine in Tai chi really helps warm up my core, and this may have helped alleviate the problem overall.

Running Librarian said...

My mom has the same thing and I diagnosed her lol Her pointer finger turns blue..very odd..

Christine said...

I never heard about this and your pictures look kind of serious! I'm glad you found a way that works well for you.

A running chick said...

I have it...fingers and toes. Mine go numb, too...then the feeling slowly comes back. I just try to shake them out. I haven't tried running them under the faucet.

Running Junkie said...

So funny you wrote this because I read it yesterday and thought "maybe that's what I have". It happened today, but it's only in one finger.....It goes completely numb and turns white like that when it gets cold outside. Weird.....

Kevin Iwaasa said...

Yes, I too have this! I live in Canada, so obviously have a very defined winter season. I especially have to wear gloves when I touch the cold steering wheel to drive and experience the white, waxy appearance on my hands and feet.
I haven't tried the cold water method, but I do run them under hot water as soon as I get home. It sounds weird, but I would rather have the pins and needles over having NO sensation! I find it rather annoying and downright painful at times! :)

Jaime Iwaasa said...

Oops, my comment posted under my hubby's ID; it's me with the Raynaud's.

Kaewards said...

I was diagnosed with this last week. I feel like I have had it for as long as I can remember though.

But my main problem is my feet! My toes always tend to be the worst. They get so cold and blue/white and then they fall asleep. I have started running but I'm not too experienced. Do you or did you ever have this problem with your feet when running? Or do you know of any good shoes to help with this? I recently got a pair of Asics gt 2170 shoes for running and I can say they are much better than all of the other shoes I have worked out in. My main problem is since I have reynauds I learned that I needed a wider toe box so I bought them in a size wide and while I do like the toe box being wide, I just feel like the rest of the shoe towards the heel is too big. Anyways, sorry for such a long post! I am just wondering if you have ever experienced this problem in your feet or not? If you have, would you recommend anything to a new runner? I enjoyed reading your blog & thx in advance! :)

Kaewards said...

I was diagnosed with this last week. I feel like I have had it for as long as I can remember though and I just sort of got used to it thinking it was how I was until my doctor recently told me different.

But my main problem is my feet! My toes always tend to be the worst. They get so cold and blue/white and then they fall asleep. I have started running but I'm not too experienced. Do you or did you ever have this problem with your feet when running? Or do you know of any good shoes to help with this? I recently got a pair of Asics gt 2170 shoes for running and I can say they are much better than all of the other shoes I have worked out in. My main problem is since I have reynauds I learned that I needed a wider toe box so I bought them in a size wide and while I do like the toe box being wide, I just feel like the rest of the shoe towards the heel is too big. Anyways, sorry for such a long post! I am just wondering if you have ever experienced this problem in your feet or not? If you have, would you recommend anything to a new runner? I enjoyed reading your blog & thx in advance! :)

Kaewards said...

I was diagnosed with this last week. I feel like I have had it for as long as I can remember though and I just sort of got used to it thinking it was how I was until my doctor recently told me different.

But my main problem is my feet! My toes always tend to be the worst. They get so cold and blue/white and then they fall asleep. I have started running but I'm not too experienced. Do you or did you ever have this problem with your feet when running? Or do you know of any good shoes to help with this? I recently got a pair of Asics gt 2170 shoes for running and I can say they are much better than all of the other shoes I have worked out in. My main problem is since I have reynauds I learned that I needed a wider toe box so I bought them in a size wide and while I do like the toe box being wide, I just feel like the rest of the shoe towards the heel is too big. Anyways, sorry for such a long post! I am just wondering if you have ever experienced this problem in your feet or not? If you have, would you recommend anything to a new runner? I enjoyed reading your blog & thx in advance! :)