Posted by Heather Doggett on 30 January 2019

February is Raynauds Awareness Month

Raynaud’s  (Ray-nose) is a phenomenon that affects the circulation – the small blood vessels in hands and feet, fingers or toes are over-sensitive to even the slightest changes in temperature, the cold and sometimes stress.  A Raynaud’s attack is where the fingers sometimes change colour, but not always, from white, to blue, to red. Raynaud’s phenomenon is a common condition thought to affect up to ten million people in the UK.  It can be sub-divided into primary and secondary.  This phenomenon was first described by Maurice Raynaud, a French Doctor in 1862.

Anyone of any age can develop primary Raynaud’s which occurs spontaneously without an underlying condition being present.  It can also be hereditary.  Secondary Raynaud’s, which is much less common, is associated with an underlying disease or external factors.

Wearing warm clothing, protection from cold and avoiding changes in temperature will help symptoms.  Portable heating aids can be invaluable in cold weather.  For more severe symptoms there are treatments that may help to alleviate rather than cure and individual response is variable.  Talk to your GP about tests and treatments if you think you might have Raynauds.

Smoking is known to provoke an attack so if you smoke, stop!

One cause of Secondary Raynauds that we see within occupational health is vibration white finger.  This is the vascular component of hand arm vibration syndrome. Although vibration causes the condition, it does not precipitate the symptoms. For employees that are exposed to hand held vibrating equipment, employers should follow legislation to ensure that appropriate risk assessments are undertaken to assess daily exposure – employees who do have exposure should undergo health surveillance as per the Control of Vibration Regulations 2005.  The aim of this is protect workers from the health effects of exposure to vibration.