Symptoms and Treatments of Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome

What Are The Symptoms Or Signs Of HAVS?

Bluish discoloration (cyanosis) of the skin of fingers and hands. Whitening (blanching) of fingertips after cold or damp exposure (known as Raynaud’s phenomenon). Numbness, with or without tingling happens, before, during or after blanching. Attacks, more common in winter, but eventually may occur year round.Palms of the hands are rarely affected. Sense of touch and pain perception reduced, sometimes forever. Decreased grip strength, and inability to sustain muscle power.

What Can Happen If Symptoms Are Ignored?

The tingling and numbness in the fingers, and loss of grip strength can cause problems with using objects, and they may slip from the hands. There can be serious interference with work, home activities and hobbies. Some activities (particularly in the cold) may have to be avoided to prevent the vessel spasms, which cause pain.

Treatment

Restore immediate circulation to blanched fingers, by putting the hands in warm water or swinging the arms, or do other exercises that increase blood flow. Wear warm, dry clothes and maintain core body temperature (e.g. wear a vest). There is no therapy at present for neurological symptoms other than removal from vibration exposure, but improved circulation may help with nerve recovery. See your doctor for specific screening tests and assessment. Since vibrating tools usually create noise, get your hearing checked as well. Since damage is progressive, often removal from exposure to vibration is the best way to prevent further damage.

Stop smoking.

Some cardiac drug (e.g. Beta-Blockers) increase vaso-spasms, whereas others (Felodipine or Nifedipine) will improve peripheral circulation. Check with your physician.

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