If cold feet and hands accompany migraines, then it might have something to do with the migraine medication you’re taking. Numb, prickly fingers that turn suddenly ice cold could indicate Raynaud’s syndrome, a disorder that causes your blood vessels to contract. Find out which migraine treatment is known to cause Raynaud’s syndrome, and which treatment for migraines and Raynaud’s might cure your cold feet.
What is Raynaud’s syndrome?
Pronounced “ray-NOHZ,” Raynaud’s syndrome (Raynaud’s phenomenon) is a rare peripheral arterial disease that causes your smaller blood vessels to shrink, significantly decreasing the amount of blood that reaches your extremities (hands, feet, nose, ears, and lips). As a result, you feel a painful cold, numbing sensation that may last for minutes or hours.
Symptoms of Raynaud’s syndrome are:
- Coldness in fingers, hands, toes, feet, nose, ears, and lips
- Painful tingling sensation
- Skin discoloration, from white or blue to red
- Raynaud’s attacks that are triggered by stress or cold temperatures
- Stinging pain and swelling that accompanies relief
What causes Raynaud’s syndrome?
Women are more likely to experience Raynaud’s syndrome than are men. In primary Raynaud’s syndrome, no cause is found. If your doctor diagnoses Raynaud’s syndrome and finds a cause, then it is called secondary Raynaud’s syndrome.
Causes for Raynaud’s syndrome include:
- Damage to the blood vessels
- Repetitive actions that cause nerve damage
- Hand or ankle injuries
- Exposure to nicotine
- Certain medications, including ergotamine for migraines
Migraines with Raynaud’s syndrome
If you are currently taking any medication for migraines that constricts your blood vessels, such as ergotamine, then you might be a risk factor for Raynaud’s syndrome. While painful tingling and numbing coldness cannot compare to excruciating migraine headache pain, it is still worth acknowledging Raynaud’s syndrome as a factor when considering migraine treatments.
Migraine drugs that cause Raynaud’s syndrome:
- Ergotamine (Ergomar, Cafergot or Wigrane) Ergotamine treats migraines by narrowing the blood vessels near the brain. Ergotamine is an abortive medicine, as opposed to a preventative migraine treatment. If you have blood circulation problems, such as Raynaud’s syndrome, then you should avoid using ergotamine for migraines.
- Beta-Blockers (Lopressor or Cartrol) Beta-blockers are primarily used to treat heart syndrome symptoms like heart failure, hypertension, irregular heartbeat, and angina, but they are also helpful in preventing migraine attacks. However, migraine patients with Raynaud’s syndrome are warned not to take Beta-blockers.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medicines (pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine) Vasoconstrictor drugs that shrink blood vessels are helpful for relieving allergies and sinus headaches. Migraine patients might sometimes use OTC allergy medicines, particularly if sinus headaches trigger or exacerbate migraine headaches. With Raynaud’s, use of vasoconstrictor medications is not advised.
Can magnesium benefit migraines and Raynaud’s?
Another theory doctors have regarding the cause of Raynaud’s syndrome is that it may correlate strongly with magnesium deficiency. This would explain for the high correlation between migraines and Raynaud’s syndrome, as doctors also believe that some cases of migraine disorder are related to magnesium deficiency, as well.
In addition to magnesium, other neurologically healthful ingredients include butterbur, riboflavin, and coenzyme Q10.
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