Causes of Raynaud phenomenon unrelated to connective tissue disease

Margaret J. Larché

Margaret J. Larché, MD, is a professor of medicine in the Division of Rheumatology at McMaster University and director of the Canadian Scleroderma Research Group (CSRG).

What disorders other than connective tissue diseases can be the cause of Raynaud phenomenon?

There are several causes of secondary Raynaud phenomenon. Of course, there’s primary Raynaud phenomenon that has no associated other diseases linked with it, but other conditions other than connective tissue diseases, which are the most common, include hematologic diseases, such as cryoglobulinemia and cryofibrinogenemia, polycythemia (rubra) vera, and other malignancies.

And then there can be vascular causes, including problems with the blood vessels. For example, compression of the blood vessels leading to thoracic outlet syndrome or a cervical rib—those can cause often unilateral Raynaud [phenomenon].

There are medications that can do it, such as beta-blockers. And then, medications that are not particularly legal, like cocaine, which can also cause secondary Raynaud [phenomenon]. Finally, there are toxic causes, such as polyvinyl chloride, [which] can cause a syndrome like Raynaud [phenomenon].

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