Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) occurs in about one-third of people diagnosed with psoriasis. PsA is an autoimmune disease that causes joint inflammation and joint pain. However, everyone experiences PsA differently. Many people have symptoms not related to their joints. In particular, some MyPsoriasisTeam members have wondered whether having cold hands and feet could be a symptom of PsA. For some, this could be a symptom of another condition called Raynaud’s disease.
Here is what you need to know if you are experiencing cold hands and feet while living with PsA. As always, talk to your rheumatologist or another health care provider if you develop new or worsened symptoms while living with PsA.
For some people with PsA, cold hands and feet only happen at specific times. As one MyPsoriasisTeam member shared, colder weather in particular causes their cold feet: “I DO have icy feet at times, though, especially in winter.” For others, cold hands and feet come with cold and warm weather alike. “My hands and feet are always cold!” one member said. “I have psoriatic arthritis and am always freezing my bum off.”
Some members experience cold hands or feet from another medical condition. “I have Raynaud’s syndrome,” one member explained. “My fingers will go completely white, then turn purple. I have had it a few times in my feet, but mostly in my hands.”
There is no known direct connection between PsA and cold hands and feet. This does not mean that one does not exist, but there is no research supporting a connection at this time. Although psoriatic disease can affect the hands and feet, the symptoms are usually on the skin (psoriasis) or in the joints (PsA).
However, there may be some connection between psoriatic disease and a condition called Raynaud’s disease. There is some overlap between people diagnosed with Raynaud’s and those diagnosed with psoriatic conditions. However, Raynaud’s is more common in people with other health conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, or Sjögren’s syndrome.
Raynaud’s disease is a condition in which your hands and feet — especially your fingers and toes — are particularly sensitive to the cold. People with Raynaud’s notice that their hands or feet may change color (either red, white, or blue) when exposed to the cold. Some people with Raynaud’s can experience these symptoms from stress as well.
If you have Raynaud’s, you may experience a cold feeling in your fingers and toes. They may go numb or change color due to decreased circulation. Some people eventually experience tissue damage from this decreased blood flow.
Raynaud’s is referred to as both “Raynaud’s disease” and “Raynaud’s phenomenon.” These are two different types of Raynaud’s, and they may have different causes.
Primary Raynaud’s is also called Raynaud’s disease. Primary Raynaud’s occurs when a person has Raynaud’s without any other rheumatic condition. People who are diagnosed with Raynaud’s and then later develop another condition may or may not have primary Raynaud’s. They will need to work with a doctor to determine which condition or symptoms actually came first.
Secondary Raynaud’s is more likely to be referred to as Raynaud’s phenomenon. Secondary Raynaud’s occurs when someone who already has a rheumatic diagnosis later develops Raynaud’s. If you develop Raynaud’s after being diagnosed with PsA, for instance, your Raynaud’s will be considered secondary.
The symptoms of Raynaud’s are the same for both primary and secondary types. If you have secondary Raynaud’s, effectively treating your PsA or other underlying condition may help reduce or eliminate your Raynaud’s symptoms.
If you’re experiencing cold hands and feet or other signs of Raynaud’s attacks, talk to your doctor or a rheumatology specialist. They can help you find a treatment regimen that will help you feel and live better.
Many medications can help treat your Raynaud’s. Medications used to treat high blood pressure — like calcium channel blockers and alpha-receptor blockers — can alleviate your symptoms by helping to keep your blood vessels open.
Work with your rheumatologist or other health care provider to make sure that you get the most effective treatment for your needs. For example, they can help ensure that medications you may take for Raynaud’s don’t interfere with any other medications you are taking.
Finding effective treatment options for your PsA and Raynaud’s disease can help you better manage Raynaud’s symptoms. You can also make a few lifestyle changes to help manage your cold hands and feet.
Staying warm in cold temperatures or during cold weather may help with Raynaud’s symptoms. Start by covering your hands and feet more often. Some people find that they are more comfortable when they wear thick socks and mittens or gloves most of the time, even when it’s warm.
If you are so cold that your symptoms begin interfering with your daily life, getting warmer should help you feel better. Hand and feet warmers could help, too.
People in colder climates may have more trouble with Raynaud’s than those who live in warmer places. Occasionally, people may choose to move if it helps them experience fewer symptoms.
Smoking is associated with constricted blood vessels, which may worsen the symptoms of Raynaud’s. Although quitting smoking may not make Raynaud’s go away, it could help improve your symptoms.
Lowering your stress levels may also help you feel better. You can try meditation or other relaxing activities to help you de-stress. Living with PsA can cause physical and emotional stress, so incorporating stress relief into your daily routine could make you feel significantly better.
Ask questions and get the answers you need at MyPsoriasisTeam, the online social network for people dealing with psoriatic disease. Here, you can share your story, ask and answer questions, and more. It won’t be long before you have a team of people from around the world who will be on your side, no matter what PsA throws at you.
Do you struggle with cold hands and feet? Do you wonder if your cold hands are part of PsA, or if they come from some other source? Share your questions or thoughts in the comments below or by posting on MyPsoriasisTeam.