ZocdocAnswersAfter running, my fingers start to go numb, even changing color. What's happening?

Question

After running, my fingers start to go numb, even changing color. What's happening?

If I only run a short distance (less than three miles), I don’t have the problem with numb fingers, but if I run a longer distance (over six miles), I get cold and start having numbing issues a few minutes after I stop running. The right hand experiences the worst numbing, and after a recent run of fifteen miles, my right index finger was noticeably white compared to the other fingers. A warm bath or shower helps stop the numbing. Is this something that I need to be concerned about, or is it okay to just put up with this sensation and treat it with warm showers? I take multivitamins. Could it be a nutritional deficiency?

Answer

Especially if this problem occurs mostly in cold weather, then probably what is going on is that you are suffering from something called Raynaud's phenomenon. This is a condition in which the small blood vessels in the extremities, like the fingers and toes, constrict, reducing blood flow. This will cause whiteness and then even a blue color over time and will also sometimes cause numbness, tingling, or pain. The fact that the symptoms get better when you warm up with a shower also goes along with Raynaud's phenomenon. Most cases of Raynaud's phenomenon are not serious, and it can usually be managed by running in warmer weather or indoors or by wearing gloves to keep the hands warm. The Raynaud's is more related the cold than it is to the running per se. At the same time, some cases of Raynaud's are associated with a serious underlying medical problem, such as a connective tissue disorder. This is more common in people who suddenly develop Raynaud's and haven't had it their whole lives. Therefore, it is always worth mentioning this to your primary care doctor and getting checked out just to make sure there is nothing serious going on.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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