Raynaud’s disease is a rare disorder of the blood vessels, typically in the fingers and toes. It causes the blood vessels to narrow when you are cold or feeling stressed. When this happens, blood can’t get to the surface of the skin and the affected areas turn white and blue. When the blood flow returns, numbness and pain results, and when the blood flow returns, the fingers may swell painfully, the skin turns red, and throbs or tingles. In severe cases, loss of blood flow can cause sores or tissue death.
People in colder climates are more likely to develop Raynaud’s. It is also more common in women, people with a family history, and those over age 30. In about 89% of people, Raynaud’s occurs in direct response to a stimulus and there is no known underlying cause. In the other 11%, it results from an underlying condition, most commonly a connective tissue disease such as systemic sclerosis, mixed connective tissue disease.(Goundry 2012)
Lifestyle modifications such as regular exercise and stopping smoking, and reducing exposure to triggers (e.g. cold, ensuring your fingers and toes stay warm, reducing emotional stress) can help, as well as pharmaceutical drugs, but many people are leery of the side effects.
In the case of Raynaud’s disease, studies have shown that acupuncture produces more sustained and effective results than conventional drugs, without the side effects. Because the disease involves the autonomic nervous system, acupuncture can switch the mode involved, halting the blood vessel spasms and relieving the pain and symptoms.
In fact, a recent study shows that acupuncture does indeed surpass drug treatment for Raynaud’s disease.
The study, conducted by R. Appiah and colleagues at the Medizinische Hochschule Hannover Department of Angiology in Hannover, Germany, randomized 33 people with Raynaud’s disease into treatment and control groups. During the course of 23 winter weeks, the treatment subjects received seven acupuncture sessions. Control subjects received no sessions. All patients kept a diary chronicling the daily frequency, duration and severity of attacks. At weeks one, 12 and 23, subjects underwent a “cooling test” that exposed their appendages to cold.
Eleven of the 17 treated patients reported a subjective improvement in symptoms. After acupuncture, the frequency of Raynaud’s attacks fell significantly from 1.4 per day to 0.6 per day. When attacks did occur, however, duration and severity did not change significantly. Changes among control subjects were not significant.
Overall, acupuncture reduced attacks by 63 percent. When patients’ hands were exposed to cold, the mean time of no blood flow through the nail-bed capillaries decreased from 71 to 24 seconds. Follow-up questionnaires showed that the benefits lasted beyond 10 months, and there were no adverse effects.These results suggest that traditional Chinese acupuncture can induce long-lasting reduction of Raynaud’s attacks.
Consider acupuncture for treatment of this and many other conditions! I will examine your health history, including the onset of your condition, to treat the specific symptoms unique to you, choosing the most effective acupuncture points and treatment plan. Acupuncture treatments are painless and gentle.
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Source: J Intern Med 1997 (Feb); 241 (2) Feb: 119–124 Treatment of Primary Raynaud’s Syndrome with Traditional Chinese Acupuncture Appiah R, Hiller S, Caspary L, Alexander K, Creutzig A Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Department of Angiology, Germany
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