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Treatment

Most people with primary Raynaud's disease do not need specific treatment. Their symptoms can be managed by avoiding triggering events as much as possible.

An episode of vasospasm often can be stopped by warming the affected areas. Do this by going indoors or soaking fingers or toes in a bowl of warm (not hot) water.

Biofeedback can help people train the body to warm the extremities. This mind-body method may help you to learn how to gain voluntary control over body processes that are typically involuntary, such as blood flow. It can help some patients to control their symptoms.

For more severe cases (which are more common with secondary Raynaud's), medication may be prescribed to reduce the severity and number of vasospasm episodes. Medications for Raynaud's are more commonly used for high blood pressure and may include:

  • Calcium channel blockers - Some calcium channel blockers commonly prescribed for Raynaud's are:

    • Amlodipine (Norvasc)

    • Nifedipine (Procardia, Adalat)

    • Diltiazem (Cardizem, Dilacor)

  • Nitroglycerin cream or ointment

  • Hydralazine (Apresoline)

  • Prazosin (Minipress)

  • Losartan (Cozaar)

  • Sildenafil (Viagra) or tadalafil (Cialis)

In severe cases that do not respond to the above treatments, your doctor may recommend intravenous medications, such as prostacyclin or iloprost. Rarely, your doctor may discuss a surgical procedure to cut the nerves that control blood vessel constriction. This procedure is called a sympathectomy.

People with secondary Raynaud's will need to be treated for their underlying disease.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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