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Nate G

Raynauds Syndrome

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Who's got it? What do you do to keep warm whole ice climbing in the extreme cold (therapies, medications, glove systems, etc.)?

For those who don't know raynauds is a syndrome where the veins in the extremities overreact to the cold and shut off blood flow to the area, often called the "white finger". It greatly increases the risk of frostbite/ frost nip..... and the screaming barfies.

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I take Ginkgo Biloba, a herbal blood thinner. Now my hands hardly ever go numb, but if they do I just swing my arms to force the blood back. Have also found that some things will make it worse, like caffeine or too much salt.

 

There was some recent scandal involving house brands at the major grocery chains where the herbal vitamins like Ginkgo and Echinacea etc were found to not contain the stated ingredients. So if you do go this route stick with major labels.

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I had a PT w Raynaud's. I felt sorry for her, but not enough to go back.

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I have had Raynauds for years - and it makes Puget Sound diving difficult as well as Ice climbing. A buddy also has it and uses Procardia w/prescription. It's pretty much explained on the web, say WebMD or Mayo Clinic.

I like to use hand warmers in my mitts or belay gloves, and use a thin polypro liner inside climbing gloves or mitts - then when I need some better dexterity and pull off a glove or mitt, then having a skin layer not exposed to ice with the liner it helps. I haven't been frost bitten yet - but it is always a concern. Those white fingers are also called "dead man hands".

They have a product called FIR Therapy gloves (Far Infrared Therapy) for those with arthritis/raynauds - not to expensive (on web). I have not tried them - but I hear they work for a construction guy I know that wears them under work gloves.

 

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I am looking at calcium channel blockers right now, but I really don't want to be on a medication 24/7 because I only get attacks when it is bellow freezing or wet and cold. I'd rather have a medication I can take before/ during a climb so I was thinking nitroglycerin cream.....has anyone tried the Murray method? I've heard it can do wonders for many.

I always thought this was normal until about a month and a half ago while climbing the Coleman headwall and subsequently getting frost nip while my partner was fine!

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My wife has circulation issues and has found great results using a combination of garlic, aspirin, and heated gloves..... I know the heated gloves my be a touch extreme, but they work. when she's touring and the circulation is going well, she uses wristbands and places the little heat packs against the underside of her wrists (keeps the blood flowing to her fingers pre-heated). When she stops, she puts on her gloves and turns them on low and it seems to work. Hope this helps....

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I'd rather have a medication I can take before/ during a climb so I was thinking nitroglycerin cream.....has anyone tried the Murray method? I've heard it can do wonders for many.

 

Nitroglycerin cream gave me pretty bad headaches but did seem to work the one day I climbed after taking it, but it was a rather mild-day as far as CO rockies alpine days go so with n=1 it's hard to have a definitive conclusion.

 

I also did the Murray's Method treatment last winter. A little back story: my biggest problem is that my hands sweat excessively on approaches so I'm dealing with a evaporative cooling issue that still makes my hands go numb as soon as I slow down, the blood stops flowing and I start touching cold metal crampons/screws etc. With that said, after having done Murray's my hands rarely go numb skiing resort days where my hands aren't sweaty. I've skied a couple of really cold days here in CO this winter and haven't had the problems I used to.

 

Going through the whole Murray's method process is a pain though. I did the sequence 3-5 times a day, every other day, until I had done 60 cycles. The biggest problem I had was getting my body to be cold outside. I generally run very warm so even here in CO in Jan/Feb without a shirt on and with a fan blowing on me, I had to sit outside for 20+ minutes to get the necessary chill - I can't imagine how long it would take in the mild PNW without access to a walk-in freezer.

 

I also saw an acupuncturist at the same time I was doing Murray's method. I had two accupuncture sessions and then he gave me a Chinese herb concoction. I'm guessing the effects of that were more temporary than Murray's so I do attribute the benefits I've seen to Murray's and not the accupuncture.

 

Good luck though. After five years of working on this issue, I've finally got my kit and process down to where I only get numb hands occasionally. When they do go numb now however, they seem to come back a lot more quickly than they used to.

 

 

Edited by Dave B

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Raynauds Syndrome is NOT a circulatory problem. It's a auto-immune condition and is related to your nervous system, the decreased circulation to the end of your extremities is just a symptom of nervous system malfunction. It is also related to your endocrine system and thyroid function as well.

For one- there is no treatment for this. There is also very little actual research on this subject matter.

I suffered for years from Raynauds, in a very mild form, but things turned really bad 5 years ago, after my emergency appendectomy. Not only I was losing circulation, particularly in my hands, but I was also losing strength and dexterity from my elbow down. At that moment I had to quit ice/winter climbing, as I was not able to function in the cold. Talking to health care practitioners was like talking to an asshole- all of the opinions stunk. There is no answer what is causing this, hence there is no cure.

I am convinced this is a complex auto-immune condition. There are several factors contributing to this condition: stress, diet, endocrine disfunction, in PNW lack of vitamin D3. Beta blockers have really bad side effects long term. It had no positive effects on my body, and the list of possible side effects far outweighs any benefits. What helped me is:

cardio-vascular exercise

Frequent trips to sunny desert in Fall, Winter and early Spring- sun exposure is critical to production of vitamin D3.

Drinking "green"juices, kale, broccoli and such help to remove free radicals out of the system.

stress management- taking 1000mg of fuck-it-all is the best and simplest method.

 

Needles to say, I was able to return to winter climbing this season, and I was able to climb at -18C on Stanley Glacier Headwall all day in February, with minimal barfies.

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Glassgowkiss - I tend to agree with you, it seems that everyone has found someway to cope with it and other medical issues. And forgive me if I piss-off any doctors on this site: but unless you have something broke or bleeding, they have trouble diagnosing it ( especially in the ER). But there has been times the ER has helped me - only after I've twisted their arm into going down the right path; (hopefully I can continue seeing them while still conscious).

I have been struggling with many health issues over the years and told to stay off the Internet. But it is a good way to hear how others deal with various problems, and some times stumble into the right answer - and I understand no one wants to be sued for giving out the wrong diagnosis until sure. :/

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Why would anyone even attempt to go to ED with Raynauds would be beyond me- probably the worst place to seek answers for something like that. ER is for treating medical emergencies, Raynauds is not a medical emergency.

The problem with Raunauds is, we do not know what is really causing it. But it is not a circulatory problem. The same way we do not know why there is a cold allergy, but there is one.

Probably changing to sunny, warm and dry climate would help. Western Washington has also higher number of MS cases. Like I said, most of people around here and D3 deficient. I am sure there is relationship between D3 and all these auto-immune conditions. And it is a combination of factors that is a cause, so you have to start eliminating these factors. I have successfully returned to winter climbing, so it can be done. But I have also implemented a multitude of changes as well.

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Not mine - but a guy I knew crawled out from Stuart on hands and knees, and lost the tips of his fingers and toes - as they went from white to blue to black. :tdown:

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Not mine - but a guy I knew crawled out from Stuart on hands and knees, and lost the tips of his fingers and toes - as they went from white to blue to black. :tdown:

Stacy Moon?

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You're correct - but Raynauds can lead to frostbite.

 

Stacy Moon?

Yep.

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You're correct - but Raynauds can lead to frostbite.

 

Stacy Moon?

Yep.

 

I heard the story from two guys who were on that trip. NR Stuart in November as I recall. One of the fellows was named Joah(?). That was 20 years ago, my memory is a bit hazy.

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I'm not sure if it was on hands and knees, but just knowing of this troubled adventure dates us all. Maybe 25 years ago.

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Dude, get off them drugs or move to spray. If you are referring to Stacy Moon, his accident has nothing to do with Raynauds. As far as I remember they were on Stuart and were caught in a pretty bad storm. He had ordinary frostbite due to exposure, which has absolutely zero to do with Raynauds syndrome.

BTW, Stacy is still kicking around, skiing and flying (not doing much climbing anymore) and working for BP at Cherry Point.

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Just out of curiosity, how do you know when you have Reynaud's vs regular cold fingers? I often get the white finger on a couple of my fingers, but considered this normal when i am generally cold

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it's generally unrelated to it being cold out. white cold fingers on a warm summer day

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Nifedipine is a prescription calcium channel blocker that I've had good results with. A big benefit is that you only need to take it when you expect to need it, so you're not stuck taking a daily pill. Nifedipine is a vasodilator, so it can cause dizziness, especially in people with normally low blood pressure. I find the slight dizziness very tolerable, but you'd obviously want to try it out first in a non-climbing setting.

 

Nifedipine can also be used to treat HAPE, so isn't a bad thing to have in your kit.

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