The fingers in scleroderma
Most people with systemic sclerosis experience Raynaud's phenomenon, which means the fingers change colour in response to cold or to emotional stress. Raynaud's is caused by poor blood supply to the fingers due to narrow-ing of the blood vessels. Classically the fingers turn white, then blue, and then red, although many people do not experience all three colour changes. The red phase, when the fingers are rewarming, is often the most painful and can be associated with a tingling feeling. The toes may also be affected.
Raynaud's is a clinical diagnosis. In other words, your doctor will make the diagnosis on the basis of what you tell him/her, and what he/she finds on examination. In addition, your doctor may arrange some tests. Examples of these are a blood test to check for certain proteins called antibodies, and a test called nailfold microscopy when the edge of your finger-nail is examined under the microscope. This test is not painful and allows small blood vessels called capillaries to be visualised. Another test called thermography involves putting your hands in front of a thermal imaging camera and watching how quickly they rewarm after being cooled down.
If you would like more information on the fingers in scleroderma including treatment options and finger exercises click on the image to download our Information Sheet.
To find out about the effects that scleroderma can have to your feet click here.