Raynaud’s syndrome, also known as Raynaud’s phenomenon, is a condition that affects body extremities such as the fingers.

In response to a trigger like cold air or emotional stress, blood vessels become narrow and normal circulation is cut off. This can make your fingers very pale or blue, tingly, or numb. Raynaud’s can also sometimes affect other areas like your toes, nose, and ears.

Raynaud’s syndrome has been associated with certain autoimmune diseases.

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a chronic, inflammatory autoimmune condition. It affects the joints and surrounding areas where the bone connects to ligaments and tendons. It can occur at any age but often develops between ages 30 and 50.

If you have PsA, you may be wondering if you should be looking out for signs of Raynaud’s syndrome. Read on for more information about the two conditions.

While PsA is a type of autoimmune disease, research supporting a direct correlation between PsA and Raynaud’s is limited. There’s not much evidence to show that the two conditions are related.

However, it’s possible to have both conditions.

If you experience symptoms of cold intolerance and color changes of your fingers or toes, a rheumatologist can perform tests to determine whether or not those symptoms are consistent with Raynaud’s.

This diagnostic process may include:

  • medical history
  • physical exam
  • nailfold capillaroscopy (microscopic exam of your fingernail)
  • cold stimulation test
  • antinuclear antibody blood test
  • rheumatoid factor and anti-CCP antibody
  • erythrocyte sedimentation rate blood test
  • C-reactive protein blood test

Raynaud’s risk factors

Certain factors can increase your chance of developing Raynaud’s phenomenon. They include:

  • chemical exposure
  • smoking cigarettes
  • trauma or injury
  • medication side effects
  • repetitive use of equipment that vibrates, such as jackhammers
  • undifferentiated connective tissue disease
  • autoimmune disease

Raynaud’s syndrome has been linked to another inflammatory type of arthritis called rheumatoid arthritis. Still, Raynaud’s is less common in rheumatoid arthritis compared with other types of rheumatic diseases, such as lupus.

Raynaud’s phenomenon is a type of vasculitis. The sudden narrowing of the arteries in your fingers or other extremities is called vasospasm, and it happens in response to triggers like cold and anxiety.

Over time, people who have been living with rheumatoid arthritis may develop vasculitis. Where rheumatoid arthritis affects the joints, vasculitis causes inflammation in the blood vessels. This affects blood flow to certain areas of your body.

Vasculitis can cause artery walls to become inflamed, which narrows the passage through which your blood travels.

PsA treatment depends on the frequency and severity of symptoms you experience. Mild, intermittent PsA symptoms can be treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, taken as needed.

More severe cases of PsA are treated with stronger medications like disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biologics, or even surgery.

Treatment for Raynaud’s is different from PsA treatment and depends on the type. There are two types of Raynaud’s: primary and secondary.

Primary Raynaud’s

Known as Raynaud’s disease, the primary form of Raynaud’s occurs without any associated medical conditions. Blood work is often normal with no indicators that anything is out of the ordinary.

Primary Raynaud’s can usually be managed with self-care measures. These include:

  • staying warm and dry
  • using hand warmers or mittens
  • quitting smoking, if you smoke
  • reducing stress

Secondary Raynaud’s

In some cases, Raynaud’s is the first sign that another underlying condition is present. Known as Raynaud’s syndrome or phenomenon, the secondary form of Raynaud’s is thought to occur as the result of an autoimmune-related condition, such as:

  • lupus
  • scleroderma
  • Sjögren syndrome
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • CREST syndrome
  • mixed connective tissue disease

Secondary Raynaud’s is often more severe and can require more intervention to manage. It can cause pain and even result in complications like skin ulcers and gangrene. It’s less common than primary Raynaud’s and usually occurs in people over 30 years of age.

Secondary Raynaud’s can benefit from lifestyle changes as well. However, it’s often most improved when the underlying condition is treated.

Other treatments specifically for Raynaud’s aim to prevent tissue damage like ulcers. These include:

  • oral medication to open blood vessels, or occasional use of 2% nitroglycerin topical gel
  • topical creams, such as antibiotic creams to treat sores
  • surgery to cut nerves that narrow blood vessels

PsA is an inflammatory, autoimmune type of arthritis that can accompany psoriasis. Raynaud’s phenomenon is a type of vasculitis, or narrowing of the blood vessels.

Both conditions are a result of an overactive immune system, which triggers inflammation in the body.

Research supporting a direct link between PsA and Raynaud’s is limited, but it’s possible to have both conditions. If you experience Raynaud’s symptoms, talk to your rheumatologist.

Read this article in Spanish.