If your hands and feet always turn numb and blue when you’re in the snow or working in very cold temperatures, then it’s possible that you may have Raynaud’s disease. It is estimated that 28 million people in the US have this condition, and women are more likely to have it than men. Because most cases are mild, a majority of those affected choose not to seek treatment as they can go about their day to day lives with little discomfort. However, some people who experience a severe type of Raynaud’s find that having the condition can impair their quality of life, which is why experts are currently investigating possible treatments for the condition. One treatment that is gaining popularity nowadays is the use of Botox to treat the affected areas. But how effective is the toxin, and how safe is it as a treatment for Raynaud’s disease?

Botox For Pain Relief

Having Raynaud’s disease or Raynaud’s phenomenon can be painful, which is why seeking pain relief is prioritized by those who have this condition. Recently, new findings indicate that Botox—the same treatment that can smooth out wrinkles and stop excessive perspiration—can also provide temporary pain relief for people with Raynaud’s.

In a recent study published in the BMJ Case Reports, three female patients diagnosed with scleroderma—a condition that is related to Raynaud’s—were all found to have “pain, swelling, and color changes in the toes.” Each patient was injected with two units of Botox into each of their toes and was asked to record any changes in symptoms after receiving the treatment. The doctors who conducted the research soon found that all the women reported significant improvement in cold tolerance, color changes and pain. Moreover, the effects lasted for five months, and two of the women said that they experienced fewer and less intense Raynaud’s attacks after getting injected with the toxin.

A Promising Treatment, But More Trials Are Needed

While all the patients have no second thoughts about recommending the treatment to others with the same health condition, further trials have to be done in order to cement Botox’s status as the go-to treatment for Raynaud’s. The head author of the research, Dr. Kiran Dhaliwal, said that to their knowledge, the initial trial is the first time that anyone with Raynaud’s has been treated with Botox.

“However, overall confidence conflicting and further randomized controlled trials are needed if Btx-A is to become a viable treatment option,” Dr. Dhaliwal added.

Raynaud’s Disease: Why You Shouldn’t Ignore It

The recent findings on the effect of Botox treatments on those with Raynaud’s disease is promising. While it may take time before it becomes the gold standard for treating the condition, its ability to reduce pain and frequency of attacks can make a difference in the lives of those who are living with Raynaud’s.

The cause of Raynaud’s disease remains a complete mystery as doctors have yet to fully understand what triggers an attack. However, you’ll know that you have it if you constantly experience stinging pain, numbness, and color changes in your fingers and toes whenever the temperature drops. It can also affect other parts of your body such as your lips and nose. Though some have very mild symptoms, others with a more severe type of Raynaud’s often have associated diseases such as lupus and scleroderma, which require other types of treatment.

What To Do If You Have Raynaud’s

If you have Raynaud’s disease, you may be tempted to head to your dermatologist’s office to get Botox shots on the affected areas of your body. However, it’s highly possible that you may not be able to receive the treatment as it has yet to undergo more tests and be approved by the FDA. For now, the best thing that you can do is to prevent a Raynaud’s attack. Bundle up whenever you head outdoors, wear socks and mittens indoors, and make sure to keep warm at all times. You may also ask your doctor for medication to improve blood circulation to reduce numbness and pain, which will allow you to cope better once the winter season begins. Until Botox becomes the ultimate cure for Raynaud’s, preventing an attack is your best strategy to cope with this health condition.

Sources:

1. Raynaud’s Association, Raynauds.org, https://www.raynauds.org/

2. Raynaud’s Disease, Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/raynauds-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20363571

3. Could Botox treat Raynaud’s? Thermal scans show how the toxin usually used to smoothen out wrinkles restored heat to the feet of three women, The Daily Mail, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-6119469/Could-Botox-treat-Raynauds.html

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