Preventive Measures for Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome

Hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) previously known as vibration white finger occurs because of continued use of tools that vibrates. Symptoms are evident around the fingers as well as along the arms and hands. The name became HAVS since there are other symptoms that occur aside from white fingers. This condition causes certain sensory perception changes which may result in numbness of fingers, weakening of the muscles, and other times white finger spells. It is not typical to develop this syndrome without experiencing usage of vibrating instruments for at least a decade. If a worker decides to change occupations and no longer operates vibrating tools, this may possibly avoid aggravation of symptoms.

Causes of the syndrome

Repetitive and continual use of vibrating tools and machineries like power tools, drills, chainsaw, among others cause HAVS. It may have not been explained thoroughly the way vibration can cause HAVS. Among possible explanations include minor but recurrent injury to the blood vessels and nerves of the fingers. With the repetitive use, sooner or later the injury to the nerves and blood vessels will progressively lose some of the systems and cause numbness among other symptoms. It was reported that one among ten individuals who work with tools that vibrate will develop hand arm vibration syndrome.

Progression of symptoms

Some people experience infrequent numbness and pricking. After these symptoms, Raynaud’s phenomenon may follow during the winter or rainy seasons. This may affect the tips of the fingers. Symptoms may start out slight which can worsen if the person continuously operates vibrating tools. Mere vibration does not usually cause Raynaud’s phenomenon. During cold and wet seasons, this symptom is triggered. While the syndrome progresses, numbness symptom does not go away. It can result to weakening and wearing away of the muscle. Incidences of Raynaud’s phenomenon occur more frequently even during hot weather although only when the hands are wet. There are instances when symptoms become apparent months or years after deciding not to use vibrating tools any longer.

Diagnosis

The way patients describe their symptoms and the reality that they were using vibrating tools for so long is sufficient enough to confirm the diagnosis. Nevertheless, examinations and further assessments may be necessary, particularly when a compensation claim is being pursued. The exams may consist of observation of the patient’s power grip, his capability to do minor hand moves and his fingers’ reaction to cold temperatures.

Prevention steps

  1. Operate tools not too firmly with the hands using different positions.
  2. Make sure the equipment is maintained well.
  3. Use appropriate equipment for the specific task correctly. The goal is not to require usage of too much grip or use the vibrating tool longer than needed.
  4. Rest from the activity for at least ten minutes every break. Brief periods at work are recommended rather than longer periods with no break.
  5. Keep hands covered and warm while doing work with vibrating tools.
  6. Avoid smoking because the components of cigarettes cause impediments with blood flow.