BENEFITS OF EXERCISE FOR RAYNAUD'S PHENOMENON
Raynaud's phenomenon is a vascular disorder that occurs when blood flow to the extremities is restricted due to vasospasms that cause the blood vessels to tighten or close, restricting the supply of blood and therefore oxygen, resulting in skin discolouration. Symptoms are triggered by cold temperatures and emotional stress. Primary Raynaud's is diagnosed when there are no underlying causes. Secondary Raynaud's is a result of other conditions such as scleroderma, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis.
There are often three phases of skin colour changes. The area turns white as a result of the restriction in the arteries. It will feel cold and numb and often painful. It may turn blue as a result of a lack of oxygen, and finally the area becomes red as the blood flow returns, accompanied by a throbbing and tingling pain.
Attacks of Raynaud’s phenomenon can last from less than a minute to several hours and can affect the hands, feet, nose and ears. With either primary or secondary Raynaud's it is important to try and manage the attacks to prevent long term damage to the blood vessels.
The benefits of exercise
A regular exercise programme is often prescribed by doctors to help alleviate the symptoms of Raynaud’s phenomenon. Physical activity helps to increase blood flow and circulation and strengthens arterial walls thus helping to counteract the causes of the attacks.
As the disease itself is due to a lack of circulation it’s important to ensure your clothing isn’t so tight around the wrists or ankles that it may exacerbate the issue by restricting circulation to the extremities.
Emotional distress often triggers Raynaud's spasms and as discussed in exercise as stress relief, exercise is extremely useful in managing your levels of stress.
Cold temperatures can be dangerous for people who suffer with Raynaud's. It’s important to wear plenty of warm clothes and thick socks and gloves. For some it’s even wise to avoid exercising in cold temperatures altogether. As always it’s advisable to consult your Doctor before undertaking any new exercise programme and this is especially true if you have been diagnosed with the phenomenon, particularly secondary Raynaud’s.
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