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Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia and Raynaud's Syndrome

Warning! I am not a doctor. My expertise on the subject is due to research and having the condition myself. It is important not to self-diagnose because only your doctor or a specialist can properly diagnose it (by exclusion of anything else). If you think you have it, see your doctor. There are real treatments out there which can help.

Stress and cold air make it happen. It affects the vascular system by shutting down the flow of blood to the extremities (mostly fingers and toes, but can affect any body part like the nose or ears). First it goes white as the blood leaves the area, then blue as the oxygen leaves the area, then dark red as the blood rushes back, then it returns to normal.

An episode can last less than a minute or up to slightly more than an hour. In some people, they may go from white to red without the bluish hue. Some people may have painful sensastions while others might feel a minor tingle or nothing at all.

Raynaud's is a vasospastic disorder (a condition in which blood vessels spasm) that can be primary (it is not caused by anything else) or secondary (it is part of another condition). Anyone at any age can get it, male or female, but it is more common in women than men. Before age 35, it is usually a primary form. After age 40 it is usually secondary and there is something causing it. However, someone over age 40 can have primary and someone under 35 can have secondary.

Even if you have secondary, that does not mean it is always a really bad condition behind it. On the worst side it could be a sign of Sjögren's syndrome, lupus, scleroderma, or rheumatoid arthritis among the many things. It can also be something relatively minor such as carpal tunnel syndrome. A rheumatologist or internist or family doctor can perform a few tests to determine if one has it and if it is primary or secondary. Some of the tests include:

Raynaud's is a common thing among people with fibromyalgia. It is usually considered secondary resulting from the fibromyalgia. Since it is also common with other diseases, one who is diagnosed with fibromyalgia may also have another condition in conjunction with it that may also result in Raynaud's such as rheumatoid arthritis. This is one of the reasons why it takes a long time for a diagnosis for fibromyalgia as it imitates a lot of other conditions. One cannot rush to judgment on this diagnosis at the risk of missing something that can be life-threatening or lethal.

Raynaud's is usually just a minor annoyance. For some people it can result in a loss of fingers or toes if these incidents happen too long or too often. There is no cure for it, but there can be prevention such as keeping your fingers and toes (and your head and face or any other body part which can be affected) warm; wear gloves when handling cold things or going into a colder environment, moving to where there are no cold winters (not a good solution for most people), and keeping stress under control (easier said than done).

When it is happening, one can try and speed up the process by shaking the affected area to force blood to rush back, or covering up with a blanket/gloves/hat/scarf, or running affected part in warm (not hot) water.

The following shows one of my mild attacks which happened when I was near a camera:

This is a mild attack that happened to me and lasted only 8 minutes. Click on the picture for a larger image.

Fingers start turning white as blood leaves area Blood left area and hands feel corpse-like Notice the color difference between the affected areas and the rest of my hand It has been four minutes and now the fingers are missing oxygen and starting to go blue The bluish hue is most pronounced in the affected fingers, but is also affecting the other fingers The bluish tone is fading as the tingle comes and blood starts coming back The blood rushed back and the finger is a reddish purple
  1. Fingers start turning white as blood leaves area
  2. Blood left area and hands feel corpse-like
  3. Notice the color difference between the affected areas and the rest of my hand
  4. It has been four minutes and now the fingers are missing oxygen and starting to go blue
  5. The bluish hue is most pronounced in the affected fingers, but is also affecting the other fingers
  6. The bluish tone is fading as the tingle comes and blood starts coming back
  7. The blood rushed back and the finger is a reddish purple