Raynaud's phenomenon, «Dead fingers» 4.15/5 (20)

Share Button

Raynaud's phenomenon / symptoms "like-fingers" (ICD-10: I 73.0)


Raynaud's is Likfingre

Raynaud's phenomenon «Dead fingers» and cold fingers. Image reference: Niklas D (Own work) Wikimedia Commons. CC BY SA 3.0

Blood vessel contractions (vasospasm) lead to cold finger episodes due to reduced blood circulation most often in the fingers and toes, triggered by cold or stress. Named after the French doctor Maurice Raynaud (1834-1881).


As many as 8-10% of the population have Raynaud's phenomenon from time to time.


Three stages. Episodes have a duration most often less than 15 minutes:

  1. Loss of normal color in the skin (white finger or toes) with reduced feeling
  2. Blueish discoloration and pain (blood circulation resumed)
  3. Redness of the skin and increased heat before normalization

Primarily Raynaud's phenomenon

Occurs without any other underlying disease. Most have had symptoms from childhood or early adulthood.

  • It is very unusual that primarily Raynaud's phenomenon causes wounds (ulcers) on the fingers.

Secondary Raynaud's phenomenon

Occur later in life and may be caused by an underlying disease. The list of possible reasons is long (See Wikipedia here (in Danish)). Among the rheumatic diseases are

Rheumatic diseases


Medical examinations

Typically primarily Raynaud's phenomenon usually does not require a wide medical examination, but if suspected of underlying disease (secondary Raynaud's phenomenon), the general practitioner will conduct medical investigations

  • Blood samples (lowering reaction (SR), Hgb, platelets, leukocytes, TSH, T4, ANA with subgroups)
  • Further interpretation of the results, and more special medical investigation for example with nail-fold capillaroscopy is a specialist task that many rheumatologists do

Raynaud's phenomenon is investigated capillaroscopy. Research Laboratory and Academic Unit of Clinical Rheumatology, University of Genova, Genova, Italy. CC BY NC 3.0

Incorrect diagnosis? (Similar diseases / differential diagnoses)


Primary Raynaud's phenomenon usually does not require any drug treatment.

  • Avoid cold, prevent with good mittens and gloves
  • Calcium blockers (eg Adalat) have shown some effect, but also some unpleasant side effects (headache, dizziness, low blood pressure) (reference: Cochrane 2016). Follow-up monitoring of blood pressure after treatment start may be relevant
    • The supply of Adalat has at times been limited in the pharmacies. Amlodipine (Norvasc) 2,5-5mg and lercanidine 10mg (Zanidip) may be alternatives. Careful tapping of the dose (to avoid side effects) may be appropriate. One can start with amlodipine 2,5mg / day (half a 5mg tablet) and then increase to a maximum of 10-20mg / day. (Reference Lee EY, 2014)
  • Sildenafil tablets (Revatio) are sometimes used after special thorough evaluation, without approved indication
  • By secondary Raynaud's phenomenon, special measures to avoid wound development (digital ulcers) or severe pain may be appropriate. rheumatic disease is present, a local rheumatologist will help.

Norwegian Directorate of Health (Supervisor for referrals)


This page has had 14 visits today

Please rate this page