Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Dressing for the cold in layers and wearing gloves or heavy socks usually are effective in dealing with mild symptoms of Raynaud's. Medications are available to treat more-severe forms of the condition. The goals of treatment are to:

  • Reduce the number and severity of attacks
  • Prevent tissue damage
  • Treat the underlying disease or condition

Medications

Depending on the cause of your symptoms, medications may help treat Raynaud's. To widen (dilate) blood vessels and promote circulation, your doctor may prescribe:

  • Calcium channel blockers. These drugs relax and open small blood vessels in your hands and feet, decreasing the frequency and severity of attacks in most people with Raynaud's. These drugs can also help heal skin ulcers on your fingers or toes. Examples include nifedipine (Afeditab CR, Procardia), amlodipine (Norvasc) and felodipine (Plendil).
  • Alpha blockers. Some people find relief with drugs called alpha blockers, which counteract the actions of norepinephrine, a hormone that constricts blood vessels. Examples include prazosin (Minipress) and doxazosin (Cardura).
  • Vasodilators. Some doctors prescribe a drug that relaxes blood vessels (vasodilator), such as nitroglycerin cream applied to the base of your fingers to help heal skin ulcers. Some vasodilators commonly used to treat other conditions, including the high blood pressure drug losartan (Cozaar), the erectile dysfunction medication sildenafil (Viagra, Revatio), the antidepressant medication fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem, others), and a class of medications called prostaglandins, may relieve the symptoms of Raynaud's.

Work with your doctor to find what works best for you. Tell your doctor if a drug loses effectiveness or causes worrisome side effects.

Some medications can aggravate Raynaud's by leading to increased blood vessel spasm. Your doctor may recommend that you avoid taking:

  • Certain over-the-counter (OTC) cold drugs. Examples include drugs that contain pseudoephedrine (Chlor-Trimeton, Sudafed, others).
  • Beta blockers. This class of drugs, used to treat high blood pressure and heart disease, includes metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol-XL), nadolol (Corgard) and propranolol (Inderal, InnoPran XL).

Surgeries and medical procedures

For some cases of severe Raynaud's, approaches other than medications may be a treatment option:

  • Nerve surgery. Nerves called sympathetic nerves in your hands and feet control the opening and narrowing of blood vessels in your skin. Cutting these nerves interrupts their exaggerated response.

    Through small incisions in the affected hands or feet, a doctor strips away these tiny nerves around the blood vessels. This surgery (sympathectomy) may reduce the frequency and duration of attacks, but it's not always successful.

  • Chemical injection. Doctors can inject chemicals such as local anesthetics or onabotulinumtoxin type A (Botox) to block sympathetic nerves in affected hands or feet. You may need to have the procedure repeated if symptoms return or persist.
Oct. 07, 2014

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