Living with Raynaud’s Disease: Making the Best of It
By Dr. Molly Casey
It’s mid-January and right now we are all things winter. Today’s blog is about a condition that many have not heard of, but if you have Raynaud’s disease, this time of year isn’t much fun. Not much fun at all.
What is Raynaud’s Disease?
Simply put, Raynaud’s is a disease that affects the circulation of the body due to excessive sympathetic nervous system stimulation. The nervous system is the master control, or communication system, of your body. The autonomic portion of the nervous system controls all unconscious actions of the body and it is broken into two divisions -- parasympathetic and sympathetic. The parasympathetic part of the nervous system controls all the unconscious actions that have to do with things resting and digesting, if you will. The sympathetic division has to do with all things fight or flight -- stimulation.
In Raynaud’s, overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous system causes spasms of the arteries, which results in reduced blood flow to the hands and feet. The hands and feet often turn white and then blue and, in some cases, even black. These symptoms can be quite scary if you’ve never been exposed to the disease before. Emotional stress, and particularly the cold, affect the disease considerably. The primary treatment is avoiding cold weather.
Chiropractic and Raynaud’s
The spine houses the nervous system. The mobility of the spine affects the function of the nervous system. With Raynaud’s, you already have a stressed (overstimulated) nervous system. In my professional opinion, it is a totally logical conclusion that a subluxation or misalignment within the spinal joints can contribute further to the problem itself. If you or someone you know deals with Raynaud’s disease, it would be wise to care for the health of your nervous system by getting a spinal adjustment and relieving some of the stress or overstimulation. To be clear, I am not suggesting it will cure the Raynaud’s disease. However, if the primary issue itself is overstimulation of the nervous system, the added stress and interference of a spinal subluxation may exacerbate the issue and its symptoms. In my mind, clearing the spinal subluxations through chiropractic adjustments is beneficial on multiple levels.
Tips to Avoid Symptoms
There are some simple tips to avoid the symptoms of Raynaud’s disease. The first is to avoid the cold. If it’s possible move to a warmer climate, it helps. If not, make sure that you layer up not only over your core, but your extremities, with gloves and socks. Relieve excess nervous system stimulation by getting regular chiropractic adjustments. Improve your circulation through regular exercise, proper hydration (half your bodyweight in ounces of water each day), and simple whole food supplements that improve circulatory function.
Living with conditions such as Raynaud’s disease is not easy. However, if you do suffer from it, there are regular steps you can take to improve your quality of life and decrease the frequency and intensity with which you experience the symptoms. We at The Joint look forward to seeing you and helping you soon.