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Raynaud's is a condition in which the blood supply to the extremities,usually the fingers and toes, but sometimes also the ears and nose, is interrupted. During an attack they first become white and dead looking then red and burning. There may be considerable pain, numbness or tingling.

These symptoms are due to an intermittent lack of blood in the affected parts when the arteries normally supplying them spasmodically contract.

An attack will often be triggered by touching cold objects or exposure to cold of any kind. Emotions, such as anxiety, also play a part, as can smoking. People who work with vibratory tools are prone to Raynaud's and this appears to be permanent even when the work is stopped. This condition is known as Vibration Induced White Finger and is recognised as an industrial disease eligible for compensation.

The condition can range in severity from minor discomfort to the onset of ulcers or even gangrene. The disease often starts in the very young or during the early teens and progresses slowly over a period of thirty years or more.

Primary Raynaud's occurs spontaneously, without any underlying condition being present. It can be hereditary, in which case it is usually fairly mild.

Women are affected nine times more than men.

Secondary Raynaud's is less common and is associated with underlying diseases such as Scleroderma, systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjögrens syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis. This is more serious and early and accurate diagnosis is essential.

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