When a doctor says “You have hand-arm vibration syndrome” many patients laugh, thinking that the doctor is trying to make a joke. However, hand-arm vibration syndrome is a real medical condition that impacts thousands of American workers. 

What Is Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome? 

jackhammer used on construction site roofers worked onHand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) is a disorder that is both painful and potentially disabling. The disorder has three main aspects: 

  1. Peripheral neuropathy in the hands. This may include symptoms like tingling, numbness, and the loss of dexterity. 
  2.  Raynaud’s disease secondary to HAVS. This means the blood vessels in the hands will narrow when a patient is cold or stressed and the affected areas will turn blue or white. 
  3. Muskuloskeletal issues. This may manifest as weakness or pain in the hands, wrists, forearms, and/or elbows. 

How Does A Patient Get HAVS?

The name of the medical disorder comes from the type of work that causes patients to develop HAVS – continued exposure to vibrations. Workers that frequently work with jackhammers, drills, polishers, needle guns, sanders, axle grinders, chainsaws, concrete vibrators and levelers, chipping tools, riveters, and lawnmowers are all at risk of developing HAVS. 

Treating HAVS 

There is no real cure for HAVS, however, if caught early enough, some of the symptoms can be reduced by removing the exposure to the source of the vibration. Some medications can improve peripheral circulation, however, these medications are typically cardiac medications and may not be appropriate for every patient. 

Preventing HAVS 

The following tips can help protect workers from developing HAVS: 

  1. Teach workers to properly grip and use vibrating tools. 
  2. Limit the time any worker has to spend actively using a vibrating tool. 
  3. Allow for generous breaks between tool use. 
  4. Keep hands warm during work. 
  5. Continually update tools to newer versions that produce less vibration. 

The bottom line is that a little education can go a long way towards preventing HAVS. 

If you’ve been diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome consider calling a workers’ compensation lawyer for a free consultation. You have the right to seek justice and fight for the compensation you are owed.