Cold Stimulation Test: MedlinePlus Medical Test

What is a cold stimulation test?

A cold stimulation test involves placing your fingers in an ice water bath to find out if you have Raynaud’s syndrome. Raynaud’s syndrome, also known as Raynaud’s disease or Raynaud’s phenomenon, is a condition that causes brief episodes where little or no blood flows to certain parts of your body after exposure to cold or sometimes stress. It mostly affects fingers and/or toes.

A Raynaud’s episode can be triggered by very mild and limited exposure to cold, such as taking food out of the freezer or holding a cold drink. When an episode happens, your skin may feel cold and numb. It may also make your skin turn white or blue. As blood flow returns, your skin may tingle, throb, or turn red. It usually takes about 15 minutes for normal blood flow to return.

There are two forms of Raynaud’s syndrome:

  • Primary Raynaud’s, a fairly common and mild condition. It is not associated with any other health problem. Symptoms usually start between the ages of 15 and 25. Most people with primary Raynaud’s syndrome can manage their symptoms without medical treatment.
  • Secondary Raynaud’s, often referred to as Raynaud’s phenomenon, is less common than primary Raynaud’s but more serious. Symptoms may include skin ulcers (open sores caused by poor blood flow) or skin infections. Symptoms usually start between the ages of 35 and 40. Secondary Raynaud’s is most often caused by another medical condition. These include immune system disorders and connective tissue diseases. Connective tissue diseases affect blood flow to tissues and organs.

Other names: cold challenge test

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