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How is Raynaud's phenomenon diagnosed?

If you’ve recently developed any symptoms of Raynaud’s, then it’s best to go to your GP. It may well be primary Raynaud’s phenomenon, especially if you're a young woman. If your doctor is in any doubt then they’ll arrange for you to have some tests to find out if you have primary or secondary Raynaud's phenomenon. These may need to be done at the hospital.

Common tests include:

  • blood tests to check your blood count (the number of white and red cells in your blood) and your immune system (your body’s self-defence system). A test for antinuclear antibodies (ANA) can be used to tell if your condition is primary or secondary Raynaud’s.
  • an x-ray to look for an extra rib at the base of your neck (called a cervical rib), which can cause the condition by putting pressure on the blood vessels that supply your arms.
  • a test called nailfold microscopy (capillaroscopy). This involves having the tissue at the base of your fingernail looked at under a microscope to check the small blood vessels.
  • a cold stress test (thermography) which can show how quickly you respond to cold. It involves using cold water and records how quickly you warm up again.

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