By Dr. Scott Rosenthal
Raynaud's Syndrome occurs when the blood vessels supplying the fingers or toes (sometimes other parts of the body) are restricted to a trickle. This leaves them cold, white or blue in tone and often numb. The cause to Raynaud’s is medically unknown, but seems to be related to an overreaction to cold temperatures or stress. This article will share one woman’s journey to a resolution of Raynaud’s Syndrome in her left foot.
Sarah suffered for more than a month with a painful, blue, little toe on her left foot. She first visited her primary care physician who referred her to a vascular specialist. He performed a cold immersion study by placing her feet in frigid water and then measuring the time it took for her toes to return to room temperature once removed. She failed the test and was diagnosed with Raynaud’s Syndrome. Sarah was then referred to a rheumatologist (a doctor who specializes in treating disorders of the joints, bones, and muscles). The rheumatologist would evaluate whether her Raynaud's was caused by another underlying disease such as scleroderma or lupus. It was at this point that Sarah decided to call my office and see if chiropractic care could help.
Some of you may be thinking, "Why would a person with Raynaud’s Syndrome go to a chiropractor?" The real question is how would a vascular problem of the toes be helped by a chiropractor? The answer lies in the nervous system which tells the muscles within the blood vessel walls whether to relax or constrict. Your nervous system controls and coordinates each part of the body (including the 100,000 miles of arteries and veins carrying blood to every cell within the body). Interference to nerve function arises when the bones of the spine and/or pelvis go out of their normal alignment (called in chiropractic a "subluxation"). Subluxations occur from the stresses of daily life or injury. If interference occurs from damaged nerves directing the blood vessels, issues with circulation may result.
Sarah was familiar with my practice and how chiropractic works and decided this would be her next course of action. After discussing her history, I examined the alignment and function of her bones of her spine and pelvis looking for subluxations. I also checked the joints in her feet, ankles and knees. Next, I checked her muscular system to see if weakness existed. My findings revealed a number of problems. Of particular concern to me, Sarah had significant subluxations in her lower back, sacrum (tailbone) and the small bone on the tip of her tailbone called the coccyx—all areas that influence nerve control to the legs and feet.
It was then time to start making corrections. I started by using a cold laser technique to improve the weak muscles found during my examination by stimulating the parts of her spine with the corresponding nerve controlling the weak muscles (please see the article titled, "TENSEGRITY 101: Understanding the Bone-Muscle Relationship" at rosenthalchiropractic.com). Next, I made gentle adjustments to the involved joints in her spine, pelvis, knee and foot (including a few toes). I had Sarah stand and made additional corrections until her system was clear.
Sarah felt an immediate change. She sat down and looked at her bare foot. The blue little toe was now a normal pink and warmer to the touch. Sarah had additional chiropractic adjustments over the next two weeks and her condition remained 90 percent improved. She is continuing to receive care and it is anticipated that there will be a full resolution in the near future.
It is important to mention that I was not directly treating Sarah for Raynaud’s Syndrome. One primary focus of chiropractic is removing imbalances to the spine and nervous system. By rebalancing her involved areas, Sarah’s nervous system regained its normal function and the circulation to her foot returned. In chiropractic, it is desirable to treat the person rather than just masking her symptoms. Once balance is restored, symptoms naturally resolve. Sarah’s actual problem was a damaged nerve that resulted in a loss of blood supply to her toe.
Many health conditions may result when the nervous system is disrupted by a subluxation. Chiropractors specialize in correcting subluxations with gentle adjustments, thus allowing the body to heal and function normally. Fortunately for Sarah, a unique chiropractic approach enabled her to regain her nerve function and naturally overcome Raynaud’s Syndrome.