The Raynaud’s Association, a 501(c)3 non-profit health organization, is launching a new and assertive campaign – “Don’t Turn a Cold Shoulder to Painful Fingers” – to urge those with the painful disorder – and their doctors – not to dismiss the pain Raynaud’s sufferers endure.
October is Raynaud’s Awareness Month, when temperatures generally get chillier and an estimated 5-10 percent of the population experiences numbness and pain in their fingers, toes and other extremities. Stress can also trigger the condition.
In a typical case, fingers turn white, blue or red as the small blood vessels go into spasm within minutes of exposure to cold or stress. The effect has been nicknamed “Zombie Hands” because fingers appear literally dead as blood flow is constricted during attacks.
“Ninety percent of Raynaud’s sufferers don’t seek treatment and too many physicians pay short shrift to those who do,” says Lynn Wunderman, founder and chair of the Raynaud’s Association. “Treatment is important because some sufferers may have an underlying condition such as systemic scleroderma or lupus. Early detection is key to successful treatment.” Simple blood tests can rule out the presence of antibodies associated with diseases that have Raynaud’s as a component.
Although primary Raynaud’s (not linked to another medical condition) is most common, all sufferers can experience great discomfort and pain, requiring lifestyle adjustments to minimize exposure to cold or stress.
The problem is compounded by physicians who use dismissive phrases such as “move to Florida” or “just stay warm,” without further examination. Although there is no known cure as yet, treatment options such as calcium channel blocker drugs have been clinically proven to alleviate Raynaud’s symptoms for many.
Doctors – and patients themselves – are not the only ones who “turn a cold shoulder” to Raynaud’s. Family, friends and co-workers may be unsympathetic to the pain of a Raynaud’s attack. “Our blogs, newsletters, social media and other forums are filled with stories about the frustration of being taken seriously,” says Wunderman. “Family members might say we’re just trying to get attention. Co-workers often grovel when asked to adjust the thermostat. Friends comment that wearing gloves in 60-degree weather looks silly.”
The Raynaud’s Association is battling such dismissive and skeptical attitudes with its new campaign, website, blog, newsletters, videos and other outreach.
The Raynaud’s Association offers a number of resources to help bring warmth and comfort to Raynaud’s sufferers:
- The Cold Facts on Raynaud’s – A 35-page guide incorporating educational materials from the organization’s web site, brochures, and newsletters.
- Frequently Asked Questions – Answers to questions commonly asked by newly-diagnosed patients, their families and caregivers.
- Educational Video – a 4-minute video providing an overview of typical triggers, symptoms and forms of Raynaud’s.
- Raynaud’s Marketplace – A selection of over 20 products evaluated by the organization with the potential to benefit Raynaud’s sufferers.
- Membership Sign-Up Form – Become a member of the Raynaud’s Association to receive quarterly newsletters and information about upcoming events.
- Lend a Warm Helping Hand – Support the Raynaud’s Association with a tax-deductible donation. Contributions help fund member mailings, the web site, awareness-building efforts and thousands of educational materials distributed each year to sufferers.