What Is Secondary Raynaud's Phenomenon?

Secondary Raynaud's Phenomenon

Although secondary Raynaud's phenomenon is less common than the primary form, it is often a more complex and serious disorder. "Secondary" means that patients have an underlying disease or condition that causes Raynaud's phenomenon. Connective tissue diseases are the most common cause of secondary Raynaud's phenomenon. Some of these diseases reduce blood flow to the digits by causing blood vessel walls to thicken and the vessels to constrict too easily.
Raynaud's phenomenon is seen in approximately 85 to 95 percent of patients with scleroderma and mixed connective tissue disease, and it is present in about one-third of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. Raynaud's phenomenon can also occur in patients who have other connective tissue diseases, including:
  • Sjögren's syndrome
  • Dermatomyositis
  • Polymyositis.
Possible causes of secondary Raynaud's phenomenon, other than connective tissue diseases, are carpal tunnel syndrome and obstructive arterial disease (blood vessel disease).
Some drugs are also linked to Raynaud's phenomenon, including:
People in certain occupations may be more prone to developing secondary Raynaud's phenomenon. For example, workers in the plastics industry (who are exposed to vinyl chloride) can develop a scleroderma-like illness, of which Raynaud's phenomenon can be a part. Workers who operate vibrating tools can develop a type of Raynaud's phenomenon called vibration-induced white finger.
People with secondary Raynaud's phenomenon often experience associated medical problems. The more serious problems are skin ulcers (sores) or gangrene (tissue death) in the fingers or toes. Painful ulcers and gangrene are fairly common and can be difficult to treat. In addition, a person may experience heartburn or difficulty in swallowing. These two problems are caused by weakness in the muscle of the esophagus (the tube that takes food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach) that can occur in people with connective tissue diseases.

Information about Raynaud's

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