Hand arm vibration syndrome is an umbrella term for an industrial injury that causes injury to the arm, hand, wrist, fingers or thumbs after prolonged use of vibrating power tools. HAVS can be broken down into two broad vascular and neurological conditions.
Vascular HAVS condition – Vibration White Finger
Vibration white finger is a type of hand arm vibration condition that affects the muscles, nerves, blood vessels and joints of the arm, wrist hand and fingers and can be a disabling condition if it is not treated. Specifically a sufferer of VWF will see a blanching of the fingers and will experience severe pain in the fingers particularly when exposed to a cold environment. Vibration white finger is a secondary form of Raynaud’s syndrome and as a consequence shares many similarities in manifestation of symptoms. VWF not only causes severe pain in the fingers, but also a reduced dexterity and ability to carry out particular functions. Recovery from VWF is usually poor if at all.
Neurological HAVS condition – Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a relatively common condition which 11 in 100 women and 3 in 100 men will suffer at one point in their lifetime. It is a disorder caused by compression of a median nerve often as a consequence of prolonged vibration (not always the case) and a sufferer will feel pain, tingling and numbness in the hands, wrists and arms. This can culminate in a general weakness in the affected part of the body. There is treatment available for carpal tunnel syndrome and often the condition will clear up over time with no treatment required.