Spotting the Signs of HAVS: Symptoms you need to be aware of
Hand Arm Vibration is a medical condition caused by the prolonged over exposure to vibration, usually via hand held power tools or machinery. It’s commonly diagnosed as an illness, however, HAVS is actually a fully preventable condition.
Symptoms of HAVS can be subtle and often go unnoticed, but due to the severity of the condition, any symptoms that do develop will be permanent and irreversible. As a result, spotting the symptoms of HAVS as early as possible is vital for the chances of delaying, or preventing the symptoms from developing all together.
At it’s worse, the dibilatating condition can prevent sufferers from working and sleeping, and can dramatically reduce the ability to hold or grip things with your hands.
Identifying the early symptoms of HAVS gives you the best chance of preventing the condition from worsening. A lot of early symptoms will appear sporadically and can often be very easy to deal with at first, but if you can identify any of the symptoms from our list, you need to take immediate action to reduce your vibration exposure.
Pins & Needles in your fingers
A common sign of HAVS is a tingling sensation in your fingers and hands. It will often occur directly after using a vibrating tool or piece of machinery and can last several minutes.
Vibration white finger will usually affect more than one of your fingers and will often occur in the wet or cold weather. You’ll see the tips of your fingers turn a pale white colour and become red and painful when warmed.
Loss of strength
Struggling to pick up, grip or hold objects for long periods can often be a sign of early HAVS.
Pins & Needles and numbness will often happen one after the other. It will often cause sleep disturbance and will become more frequent if left untreated.
Due to the severity of these symptoms, a lot of sufferers are unable to work or will need to undergo job changes because of being unable to perform manual tasks.
Loss of grip
Picking up smaller objects such as nails will become difficult due to a severe loss of grip in both hands.
Sporadic numbness will become permanent and feeling in your hands and fingers becomes drastically reduced. Simple tasks like pushing buttons will also become a lot more difficult.
Advanced Vibration White Finger
Vibration white finger will become more common if not permanent and be a lot more painful.
Identifying HAVS early on
HAVS is preventable, but the warning signs need to be spotted early so you can seek the help needed to stop the damage from leaving a lasting effect.
At work, it’s your employer’s responsibility to protect you from HAVS exposure, so any symptoms should be immediately reported and an alternative method of doing the job should be looked at in order to protect yourself and your employer.
You can also reduce the risks yourself by keeping your hands dry and warm, ensuring a good blood circulation and keeping tools stored in a warm place. There’s also evidence to suggest massaging your hands and fingers after using a tool can help reduce the effects.
Are there any other symptoms we should be aware of? Let us know here.