Raynaud’s Condition at Eagle-Summit Foot & Ankle

by | Dec 28, 2017

Whenever I see a patient with a cold injury from being out on the mountain too long, I can relate. While I have never broken a bone and anytime I have an ingrown nail I can fix it myself, I do suffer with Raynaud’s Condition. This causes my blood vessels to close down for the slightest of reasons, including no reason at all. Sitting in the climate controlled office at Eagle-Summit Foot and Ankle and typing up patient notes can make my hands as cold as riding the chairlift. My hands will turn white as the vessels slowly shut down in my fingers, then blue as they turn slightly ischemic, followed by a rush of red once the blood returns. This characteristic pattern in Raynaud’s patients can be very painful and, if severe, can cause ulcerations.

Knowing I have this problem, I have taken up a few behaviors to give myself as much of an edge against it as possible. Through residency, I drank a lot of coffee. Like 64 ounces a day with multiple shots of espresso, a lot. In Houston, I rarely got cold at all, but here I find drinking two cups of coffee is enough to flare up my symptoms. So, now I am down to one cup every three days or so. The caffeine is enough of a stimulant to really affect my small blood vessels. Nicotine is worse, but thankfully I know better than to smoke.

I also dress very warm while skiing every time I am out. Whether it’s a 40-degree bluebird day or a 10-degree blizzard, I dress in many layers to keep my core warm and wear my full leather Black Diamond gloves and my warmest socks to keep my feet warm. I would rather be a little sweaty than any amount of cold.

Fortunately for me, this has been enough to prevent the ulcerations that can be associated with Raynaud’s. Some patients aren’t as lucky. These patients need to avoid cold exposure at all cost. Moving from elevation helps increase warmth and available oxygen, so is by far the best treatment when the problem is bad enough. I’m not planning on going back to sea level anytime soon, so I look for every edge I can in limiting my Raynaud’s symptoms.