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A look at Raynaud’s syndrome


Photo: Bogdanhoda/iStockphoto

Raynaud’s phenomenon – sometimes called Raynaud’s syndrome or disease – is a disorder of blood circulation in the fingers and toes (and less commonly in the ears and nose). The cause: Several.

One cause is cold weather, the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety says. Another is hand-arm vibrations. “Raynaud’s phenomenon is primarily a concern for workers who handle vibrating tools or equipment such as pneumatic drills, jackhammers, chipping hammers, riveting tools, impact wrenches, pavement-breakers, gasoline-powered chain saws, electric tools and grinding wheels, especially in pedestal grinders.”

Symptoms usually include cold fingers or toes, tingling or numbness, stinging pain, and color changes in the skin. If you have light skin, the color changes “may progress from white to blue to red.” If you have dark skin, Raynaud’s may make your skin in the affected area look paler.

CCOHS recommends workers with Raynaud’s take precautions:

  • Dress in layers for cold weather.
  • Wear gloves when working in cold water or reaching into a freezer.
  • Don’t smoke – nicotine can reduce your blood circulation.
  • Massage and exercise your fingers during work breaks.
  • Use only well-maintained and properly operating tools.
  • Hold vibrating tools as lightly as possible. Let the tool do the work.
  • Rest vibrating tools on a support or work piece when possible.

If symptoms become severe, you should schedule a visit with your health care provider.

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