Raynaud's Syndrome decreases effective blood flow to the extremities, most significantly fingers and toes; this results in cold, pale fingers and toes, followed by pain and redness in these areas as blood flow returns. The underlying problem is constriction of the blood vessels in response to cold, stress or some other phenomenon supplying these areas. Symptoms are often mild.
Raynaud's phenomenon may occur as an isolated problem, but it is more often associated with autoimmune and connective tissue disorders such as scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
Fitness and Diving Issue
Raynaud's Syndrome poses a threat to a diver who is so severely affected that he or she may lose function or dexterity in the hands and fingers during the dive. If coldness is a trigger that causes symptoms in the individual, immersion in cold water will likely do the same. These individuals should avoid diving in water cold enough to elicit symptoms in an ungloved hand. The pain may be significant enough that, for all practical purposes, the diver will not be able to use his or her hands. Less severely affected individuals may be able to function adequately in the water.
Medication Used in Treatment
Calcium channel blockers may be prescribed for individuals with severe symptoms; lightheadedness when going from a sitting or supine position to standing may be a significant side effect.
For more information on cardiovascular conditions, see the complete article by Dr. James L. Caruso on Cardiovascular Fitness and Diving.