During our time as DSE workstation assessors, we’ve often been asked to help improve the working lives of people that suffer from Raynaud’s Disease.
What is Raynaud’s Disease?
Raynaud’s Disease affects the small blood vessels of the extremities. Commonly felt in the hands and feet, the extremities become oversensitive to slight changes in temperature, causing discomfort and pain. For the 10 million people living with Raynaud’s in the UK, this means that even a simple task like buttoning up a coat (or typing this blog post) can be challenging.
What are the symptoms?
Attacks can be spotted from the following symptoms:
- Tingling, numbness or soreness in the extremities such as fingers, toes or nose
- The extremity might change colour from white to blue to red as a reaction to a change in temperature or stress
- Your hands, feet or other extremities feel cold and have trouble warming up
Here is a symptoms checker by SRUK charity. If you suspect that you may have Raynaud’s, as always, we would first and foremost suggest that you seek the help of your GP https://www.sruk.co.uk/raynauds/raynauds-test/
What causes Raynaud’s disease?
There are two types of Raynaud’s disease – Primary and Secondary. Primary means that the Raynaud’s phenomenon is a condition itself. Secondary Raynaud’s may be caused by an underlying condition that affects the blood vessel.
Although more commonly found in young women and girls, Raynaud’s disease affects men women and children of all ages. To this date, there is no known cause of the primary disease, but triggers such as changes in temperature, hormones and emotions can provoke an attack.
Secondary Raynaud’s has been linked to the constriction of blood vessels from smoking, diseases of the arteries, repetitive movement (such as working with vibrating power tools), previous injuries to the affected area and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
How can to manage Raynaud’s at work
Firstly, it’s important to establish from a medical professional whether you have Primary or secondary Raynaud’s and work out what treatment or therapies are available to you.
Our Director and expert assessor Jo has the following tips for managing work if you are suffering from Raynaud’s disease:
Speak to your employer
Where possible, try to have an open dialogue with your line manager or employer. Even if it’s a case of achieving a more comfortable ambient temperature in the office, or swapping out your keyboard, small adjustments might really help improve your quality of life at work.
Try to wear lots of thin layers to stay warm whilst you are working. We almost always recommend fingerless gloves to office workers that have trouble warming up their hands. They tend to be more practical and discreet, whilst still providing some comfort. You can download a helpful factsheet with tips on how to stay warm from SRUK here.
Try a new mouse
Mimicking the same symptoms as Arthritis, Raynaud’s in the hands and fingers can be very painful. An ergonomic mouse that keeps the wrist in a neutral position is often recommended to ease discomfort. One mouse that we swear by is the Contour UniMouse that features an Articulating Thumb Support to reduce gripping and pinching of the CMC (basal) joint and helps to reduce RSI.
Regular, gentle exercise
Break up your work into manageable chunks and take regular short breaks in-between the intervals. This is the perfect excuse to get up and move around, walk to get a glass of water and get your blood circulating. Better habits such as eating away from your desk (admit it, we’ve all been guilty of a desk buffet), getting fresh air on your lunch breaks and squeezing in some extra steps can contribute to better circulation.
If you’d like further advice on managing Raynaud’s at work or have further questions, leave us a message below and we’ll get back to you. Alternatively, speak a member of the team at Posture People on 0330 332 0880
Further reading and resources