Epidemiology of Raynaud’s Phenomenon

  • Adam Maundrell
  • Susanna M. Proudman


The prevalence of Raynaud’s phenomenon (RP) in most studies of the general population is between 3 and 5 %. Primary RP is reversible vasospasm in peripheral arteries occurring in the absence of an underlying disease and accounts for 80–90 % of cases. Secondary RP develops in association with an underlying disorder and is often characterised by structural vascular abnormalities and irreversible vascular occlusion. The prevalence of primary RP ranges from 2 to 20 % in women and 1–12 % in men depending on geographic location, the population studied, the definition of RP used and the method of case ascertainment.

In women, the onset of RP is more commonly at an early age and is associated with a family history of RP suggesting genetic factors may play a role, as may hormonal and emotional factors. RP secondary to autoimmune disease is also more common in women than in men. In contrast, the prevalence of RP in men increases with increasing age and smoking and is more likely to be secondary to occupational exposures such as vibration or atherosclerotic peripheral vascular disease than in women. Low body weight is a risk factor in both sexes. Studies of risk factors have been hindered by poor methodology such as cross-sectional study design.

The prevalence of secondary RP is related to the underlying disease. Progression to secondary RP occurs in 14–37 % of subjects with primary RP. Almost 99 % of patients who progress develop an autoimmune disease, most commonly systemic sclerosis (SSc). Risk factors for progression include positive ANA, elevated ESR, SSc-specific autoantibodies and abnormal nailfold capillaroscopy.

Primary RP follows a relatively benign course with minimal impact on function and quality of life. The greatest impact of secondary RP on morbidity and function arises from complications from digital ulceration and ischemic necrosis, namely pain, infection, gangrene and amputation, with resultant loss of hand function.


Migraine With Aura Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Digital Ulceration Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease Vinyl Chloride Monomer 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Anti-nuclear antibody


Confidence interval


Connective tissue disease


Digital ulceration


Erythrocyte sedimentation rate


General practice


Health assessment questionnaire


Mixed connective tissue disease


Not described


Odds ratio


Rheumatoid arthritis


Raynaud’s phenomenon


Relative risk


Systemic lupus erythematosus


Systemic sclerosis


United Kingdom


United States of America


Vinyl chloride monomer


Vibration white finger


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of RheumatologyRoyal Adelaide HospitalAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Discipline of MedicineUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

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