Saying you have “cold feet” can mean a lot of things. It could mean you didn’t wear warm enough socks when you went skiing in the mountains. It could mean you’re reconsidering a decision you made and would like to back out. When you struggle with sudden episodes of cold feet, though, it could mean you have Raynaud’s disease.
Icy Toes from Poor Blood Flow
Raynaud’s disease, also called Raynaud’s phenomenon, is a problem with spasms in the blood vessels in your feet. Extreme temperatures, emotional stress, and occasionally preexisting diseases trigger the blood vessels to constrict. This suddenly, albeit temporarily, restricts the blood flow to your extremities.
There are two main kinds of Raynaud’s disease. Primary Raynaud’s, the most common kind, is caused by cold temperatures or high stress. Not keeping your lower limbs warm enough in winter, swimming in cold water, exposing your feet to cold air, or just struggling with intense stress are a few of the ways you could trigger the condition. Less common is secondary Raynaud’s. This version is a side effect of a more serious issue, particularly autoimmune diseases like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, artery diseases, smoking, or even previous fractures.
Signs and Symptoms of Raynaud’s Disease
Exactly how serious the effects are will depend on what triggered the episode and how long it lasted. When an attack happens, your feet turn icy cold and may hurt. Frequently they turn white or blue and feel numb as well. Many people also develop an uncomfortable, prickly, pins-and-needles sensation in your lower limbs when the blood vessels relax and open up again, warming your lower limbs.
Sharply restricting the blood to your feet is not good for their health, though in the vast majority of cases, there’s no permanent damage. There is a risk, however, that the condition could contribute to ulcers on your feet. Letting that progress without treatment could then lead to serious issues, from losing some mobility to losing your foot.
Keeping Feet Warm
To take care of the problem and keep your feet warm, you’ll need to have the condition accurately diagnosed. Identifying Raynaud’s itself is usually simple. Dr. Noah Levine will perform tests to diagnose the issue while ruling out other possibilities. This also allows our team to check for underlying issues that could be causing secondary Raynaud’s, which is more serious and more likely to develop complications. Once we have identified the problem, we can help you begin to manage it.
Treatment revolves around two aspects: handling an attack when it happens and preventing one from occurring. When you experience an episode of Raynaud’s disease, the most important step is to begin warming the feet as soon as possible. If you are outdoors, go inside and submerge your feet in a lukewarm or warm, but not hot, bath. Wiggle your toes and move your feet around, too, to try and stimulate your circulation.
In some cases, you might need medication to regularly manage the condition. This is most common with severe or secondary Raynaud’s. You’ll also need to manage any underlying diseases that are contributing to the problem. In between attacks, try to avoid allowing your feet to get too cold. Wear warm socks and exercise regularly. Keep your skin healthy and manage your stress levels. If you smoke, work on quitting.
Getting cold feet shouldn’t have to be a health issue. With the right care, you can manage the side effects and keep your lower limbs healthy and strong. Don’t wait for complications to develop to take care of your lower limbs. Instead, contact our expert foot doctors here at Absolute Foot Care Specialists. You can reach our Las Vegas offices through our website. You can also call us directly at (702) 839-2010 to make an appointment today.