/ Climbing with Raynaud's

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captain paranoia - on 07 Dec 2010
Interesting article in this quarter's Summit about coping with Raynaud's.

The author's solution was a pair of wristlets made from old socks, to keep the wrists warm. This tallies with my experience that keeping the wrists and forearms warm helps to reduce the frequency of attacks.

I had a look at the Raynaud's society website, and I see they sell a nice pair of fingerless fleece mittens for a fiver http://www.raynauds.org.uk/raynauds/recommended-products . I have a pair of fingerless fleece gloves with a long cuff, found in the discount bin in Millets that do the same job, and warm the fingers, too.
Mostro - on 07 Dec 2010
In reply to captain paranoia:

Definitely agree with keeping the wrists warm. I use the arms (well, the last ten inches) of my old caving furry suit. It also helps when cycling.

One of my friends started taking medicine (a prescribed vaso-dilator) in the run-up to the winter - he was singing its praises in La Grave this year when teh temperature as -10 to -15.
Colin Moody - on 08 Dec 2010
In reply to captain paranoia:

I didn't notice vitamin E on their web site, I take 400 or 500 units a day and it helps a lot.
Got to take it for a few weeks before you notice it working.
IainRUK - on 08 Dec 2010
In reply to captain paranoia: Good post, I thought I about mentioning this. Made some wristlets out of some old socks and have been using them, seemed to make a big difference. Will have a look at those products.

Not sure I have raynauds but my fingers do go dead from the nuckles quite alot, sudden band then paley waxy white. Looks like animal Dead mans fingers.
iceicebaby - on 08 Dec 2010
In reply to IainRUK:

Mine too. I've started wearing the baselayers with the thumbloops. It stops your wrists being exposed when your reach up. Still get it if its really cold and my hands are wet, but I find covering wrists definitely helps.
IainRUK - on 08 Dec 2010
In reply to iceicebaby: I get it just in the wall, never mind being outside. Its a real pain.
karinh - on 08 Dec 2010
In reply to IainRUK:

If prevention has failed, two tricks to get the blood back into your fingertips:
1. cross your arms and put your hands against the skin of your neck - full of big arteries so as warm as your oxters, but more accessible
2. (this might not work so well mid-route) Swing your arms round in full circles. Apart from the exercise warming you up, the centrifugal force helps get the blood back to your extremities :-).
kathrync - on 08 Dec 2010
In reply to IainRUK:

>
> Not sure I have raynauds but my fingers do go dead from the nuckles quite alot, sudden band then paley waxy white. Looks like animal Dead mans fingers.

Like the picture on this page http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-11902593 ?

That's pretty typical, lots of my family have it too (thankfully not me!).
goosebump - on 08 Dec 2010
In reply to all:
Anyone get it in their feet? My toes or bits of my feet are forever "dying". Doesnt have to be that cold, running can set them off and running more doesnt seem to bring them back. Only had dead mans finger once - on Moel Eilio in the snow last year as some skimpily clad man ran past (at the time I thought - I bet thats Ian! :))

On a more serious note, does it cause injury to spend all day wandering around with dead toe (s) or fingers? I get no pain at all from my dead feet, just feels a bit weird.
IainRUK - on 08 Dec 2010
In reply to goosebump: Never in my feet strangely. The only time I get cold feet is if I'm not moving around but when climbing, running or walking they are fine.

If it was me I would have had gloves on. Even when wearing a vest I wear gloves..

I get the dead fingers from the first joint. Does look like raynauds. 10 million in the UK suffer from it, never thought it was so common.
captain paranoia - on 08 Dec 2010
In reply to IainRUK:

> Not sure I have raynauds but my fingers do go dead from the nuckles quite alot, sudden band then paley waxy white

Sounds exactly like the symptoms of Raynaud's. Good picture in this BBC article:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-11902593

Don't expect a miracle fix from any product; just a reduction of the frequency, perhaps.
captain paranoia - on 08 Dec 2010
In reply to karinh:

> Swing your arms round in full circles.

Yeah, I do that too.

Also, massaging the upper forearm, and calf, rather than the fingers/toes; the idea being to encourage the arterioles to open up again, and re-establish bloodflow.

I have noted anecdotally that a nip of alcohol can help, and I see that's also reported on the Raynaud's society website (with a caveat against taking with other drugs). And the obvious other caveat...
captain paranoia - on 08 Dec 2010
In reply to goosebump:

> Anyone get it in their feet? My toes or bits of my feet are forever "dying".

Yes; my feet are suffering a bit at the moment with chilblains, after the recent cold spell. I don't get chilblains on my fingers, so it's probably an issue with mechanical damage to the skin whilst 'dead'. Or the RS is more severe in my toes, but, since they're in my shoes, I can't see how bad it is...

I can get attacks watching TV in summer, especially if it's a tense programme/film (stress is another factor in RS).
jeffb - on 08 Dec 2010
In reply to IainRUK:
> (In reply to iceicebaby) I get it just in the wall, never mind being outside. Its a real pain.

Had it at the wall too....it helps to avoid doing routes with very small, sharp edged holds and stick to slopers and jugs etc. I find that pressure across the fingers is sometimes enough to trigger an attack.
goosebump - on 08 Dec 2010
In reply to captain paranoia:
Ah! I hadnt linked chilblains and Raynauds. I got chilblains last winter for the first time (old house to renovate, no heating, lots of damp). Not so bad this year but my little toe is a sorry sight. Poor forgotten about thing.
How do you bring your feet back once theyve gone dead? I still havent sussed what works for me and any suggestions are worth a go.
captain paranoia - on 08 Dec 2010
In reply to goosebump:

Chilblains (for me) are a side-effect of Raynaud's, I think.

I'm afraid the only way (for me) is to raise the core temperature so that I'm nice and warm. So, either a nice warm place, warm drinks, food, or exercise.

In a cold house, try running up and down stairs a few times to do some work, and get the circulation moving. And wear warm clothes, hat and warm, unrestricting footwear if you're sitting idle for a long time (e.g. watching TV, using computer). Also helps to get up and walk about a bit, or move your arms, legs and feet about every now and then.
up the hill - on 08 Dec 2010
In reply to goosebump: poor circulation is something i suffer from too. Last winter my big toe nail fell off, most likely from frostnip. When im skiing or walking in winter sometimes my toes are white the whole time im out. I dont want to loose any more nails so Im hoping to avoid that this winter by buying heated insoles for my boots. Incedentally, hand warmers are also very effective.
mike.moss - on 08 Dec 2010
In reply to captain paranoia:

I seem to suffer from poor circulation in my hands (or I just complain a lot more than my partners!). My hands often go very pale if I don't manage them well and that leads to screaming hot aches, typically during seconding a pitch. I hope some of the following is useful as it's worked so well for me, although I don't have Raynaud's.

I'm careful to wear the right gloves at the right time. I'll wear some thinnies for the (sweaty) walk in and always put on a belay jacket when I stop moving. I switch to thicker gloves when gearing up or approaching up (damp) snow slopes at the start. I always try to use a fresh pair of gloves when the real climbing starts.

I find hand warmers in the palm of my gloves make all the difference and don't get in the way of climbing at all. Even if I don't feel that cold I'll put them in when gearing up to prevent getting cold later.

I'm also disciplined at belays, always putting on a belay jacket even if I'm feeling warm after a pitch. After belaying my partner I know I'll be colder and why waste heat? I swap to thick belay gloves so I'm not handling cold, wet ropes in my climbing gloves. I find switching back to climbing gloves is fine if I have them down my top and have hand warmers.

As for feet, my toes have suffered ever since some mild frostbite, but a good pair of boots have sorted that out. In particular you want a boot that does not allow snow to collect on the laces and melt into the leather. Spantiks for me, even in Scotland. Yes I look like I have all the gear and no idea, but when have warm feet ever been a problem?
isi_o - on 09 Dec 2010
In reply to captain paranoia:
No idea if it's actually Reynaud's, but I suffer from similar symptoms - I've had interesting coloured fingers from working in the ice wall before, coming back from loss of feeling in random patches which went red leaving the skin around them white.
I've been contemplating playing with heat pad things, but find that the palms of my hands are often a little too hot if anything, although this doesn't seem to transfer to my fingers unfortunately. Wondering if a pair of mitts with heat pads in the end to put on for belays may be beneficial. Might give it a go next time I'm out and see...
CarolineMc - on 09 Dec 2010
In reply to captain paranoia:

hello! I found that interesting too... My hands have benefitted loads from a pair of those nepalese fingerless mitts which cover the wrist. Too bulky for climbing but great for dossing about! Will be fashioning something more practical for climbing next week tho.

Handwarmers are also crucial for me. I set them off at the beginning of the day so they're warm when I need them. When I'm climbing I put them in the palms of my gloves with no discomfort. Works a treat.

I also have a pair of mitts at the ready for the first sign of freezing fingers! Despite the precautions tho, I'll still end up with hot aches at some point - on sunday it was from faffing about with my camera when the sun was going down. Doh!

For feet, try some good old fashioned leg warmers! If you don't want to look like an extra from Fame, just put them under your trousers!!

C-:
ads.ukclimbing.com
kathrync - on 09 Dec 2010
In reply to CarolineMc:

I actually put handwarmers in the backs of my gloves, so they are against the back of my hand rather than the palm, between the liner glove and the outer. I find this keeps me warmer and gets in my way less...bonus!

If you have wrist warmers, tucking hand warmers in those on the inside of your wrist also works well.

However be careful because they are very close to the veins in those areas. That's why the are effective, but if they get too hot you can do yourself some damage...make sure you move them to somewhere like the palm if they do get too hot!
Ron Walker - on 09 Dec 2010
In reply to captain paranoia:

I suffer from poor circulation and used to suffer badly from the hot aches and loss of dexterity several times during every winter climb.

Avoiding tight clothing, boots and gloves help as does changing into a dry base layer. Bizarrely one of the things that I found helped a lot was not to stuff my face with food before the start of a route. This takes the blood supply away from your hands and feet to your stomach so you end up with cold extremities!! I now take a quick snack and eat after the route and then on queue I suffer from the hot aches!!! Experiment a few times with the above and let me know how you get on.

My partner has suffered badly from cold hands and white fingers just from passing the Tesco freezers. She even suffered the hot aches rock climbing in Spain recently. Downhill and cross country ski poles don't help her cold hands either. Surprisingly she doesn't suffer anywhere near as much while leading on a ice climb as she does while seconding - I now suffer instead!

Cheers Ron
captain paranoia - on 09 Dec 2010
In reply to CarolineMc:

> Despite the precautions tho, I'll still end up with hot aches at some point

Funnily enough, I very rarely get hot aches when my hands and feet come back to life. The only time this happens is when I've got cold 'normally'... The most memorable occasion being one Glencoe meet, where I'd been up Sgorr nam Fiannaidh on my own, and had sat at the windy, icy summit for a snack and a couple of photos without putting on an overlayer (d'oh!), resulting in very cold hands. So I ran back along the summit ridge, and down one of the many gullies, out of the wind. By which time, the rapid exercise sent circulation pouring back into my fingers, and I collapsed in a heap with quite spectacular hot aches for a couple of minutes. After which, I was fine, with toasty warm hands...
captain paranoia - on 09 Dec 2010
In reply to Ron Walker:

> Avoiding tight clothing, boots and gloves help

Over-tight gloves and boots are certainly a problem, as is any constriction around ankles and wrists.

I have dozens of pairs of gloves, always looking for perfection; I have rather odd fingers, with very pronounced webs, so gloves often have too long fingers for me. The best pair I had was a pair of Altura cycling gloves, but they're dying now (mostly due to being stupid enough to try to climb in them at Stanage one very cold picnic, which ripped the crap out of the synthetic suede fingers). And they've stopped making them, of course... Even though they were just Windstopper and a bit of foam insulation, they kept my hands warmer than much thicker gloves, and the best bit was that my fingers reached the ends...

> My partner has suffered badly from cold hands and white fingers just from passing the Tesco freezers.

A lot of similar accounts to that on the Raynaud's Soc website. Fortunately, mine isn't that bad.
captain paranoia - on 09 Dec 2010
In reply to isi_o:

> I've had interesting coloured fingers from working in the ice wall before, coming back from loss of feeling in random patches which went red leaving the skin around them white.

Sounds like Raynaud's: the colour can return in very strange ways, leaving isolated patches of pink and white.
system12 on 11 Dec 2010 - 94-195-94-177.zone9.bethere.co.uk
In reply to captain paranoia:

This works for me
- very thin gloves next to skin then...
- Buffalo mitts then..
- Dach mitts (mine have leather patches for grip, bought in Grindelwald 15 years ago !) and ...
- Extremities gautex over-mitts (only worn if its snowing ! to avoid the Dach mitts getting wet.)

I managed the last few weeks of -5 to -8 without any incidents. Today I walked to the post office, wearing insulated gautex gloves with fingers, after 10 mins the tips of one finger was going white, and its 7.5 degrees today.

Its embarrassing to wear mitts in the spring/autumn when going out in town/to the park etc. , but this combination seems to keep the Raynards at bay. Since the fingers started going white (about 4 years ago) I have avoided winter climbing.


RichS on 11 Dec 2010 - 92.16.157.145 whois?
In reply to captain paranoia: I've started getting it since having chemotherapy.I havn't tried climbing again yet,but it's a real bugger coping with it just doing everday things.I absolutely love winter mountaineering and don't want to give it up.I'll have to have a word with my GP about vaso dilators and vitamin E.Thanks to the OP for starting this topic.
Cheers Rich
Colin Moody - on 11 Dec 2010
In reply to RichS:
I don't know if a GP would recommend taking vitamin E. Found this on wikipedia.

'The consensus in the medical community is that there is no good evidence to support health benefits from vitamin E supplementation, yet there is strong evidence that taking more than 400 IU of vitamin E per day for extended periods increases the risk of death.'

A chiropractor advised me to take it after I mentioned Raynaud's.
I had some worts on my hands which went after I took vitamin E, she told me that was because my circulation had improved.
Colin Moody - on 13 Dec 2010
In reply to RichS:

'Could help to maintain a healthy heart, blood vessels...'

http://www.healthspan.co.uk/vitamins/vitamin-e-400iu/productdetail-p420-c147.aspx
RichS on 13 Dec 2010 - 2.97.133.234 whois?
In reply to captain paranoia: Thanks Colin, I'll give it a go Cheers Rich
captain paranoia - on 14 Dec 2010
In reply to captain paranoia:

> Over-tight gloves and boots are certainly a problem, as is any constriction around ankles and wrists.

One other thing I remembered: holding on to pee... I think the constriction required to do this affects the blood flow to the entire legs (try to remember how relaxed your lower abdoment becomes when you've had a pee after holding on for some time). So, if you feel the need to pee, pee... And that means you, ladies...
panad - on 14 Dec 2010
In reply to captain paranoia:

sometimes the bag splits and then they go all soggy and sticky i your pocket.
loftustowncrier on 15 Dec 2010
I also suffer from bad cold pains - they're nasty! I wear long sleeve thermal tops (merino is a favourite) with thumb loops, then a pair of silk liners, then a pair of Buffalo mitts (they are good at staying warm when wet - just as advertised), then Goretex mitts over the top (if it's really wet or I'm still cold). I also look for jackets with high side pockets so I can wear a rucksack and still get my hands in my pockets. Of course, that doesn't work if I'm using poles or carrying axes etc. but both my down jacket and Buffalo jacket pockets are extremely effective.

For my feet - I make sure I wear a pair of long socks as liners (knee length), plus thick socks - they make a massive difference to keeping my feet warm. After that I usually wear thermal tights, then gaiters, then goretex thermal skiing pants with their own gaiters. My partner can't understand how I can wear so much without overheating, given that he'll have a pair of tights on... and that's it! At least I'm warm. :-) Other than that, it's all about keeping moving, eating regularly and taking a hot flask (but I usually rely on said partner to open and decant - too many gloves to do anything!).
captain paranoia - on 15 Dec 2010
In reply to panad:

> sometimes the bag splits and then they go all soggy and sticky i your pocket.

In reply to ???:

Are you talking about re-usable heat pads?
jimbob1962 - on 17 Dec 2010
In reply to goosebump:
I had a Chilblain on one toe about ten years ago. Tried different creams for about six months then went to my GP, he suggested taking half an Asprin a day.The Chilblain was gone in less than 2 weeks.
I still take Asprin in cold weather and when I go Skiing I use Ginko Biloba which I find more effective.
freerangecat - on 19 Dec 2010
In reply to goosebump:

Has anyone found that their circulation gets worse the more they get numb fingers/hot aches? I can't de-ice the windscreen in the morning without daily crazy hotaches now, despite wearing gloves (I'm going to try the 4th combination tomorrow morning...) and being as quick as possible. I spent 1 day last week unable to use the roller ball on the mouse at work because my fingertips felt bruised after having bad hot aches 1st thing that morning. I've always suffered from hot aches/numb fingers and toes, but it seems to be getting worse, and if I'm like this at 27 I dread to think what it'll be like in a few years time!

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