Hand and arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) is a type of injury caused by excessive and/or prolonged vibration of the hands and arms. It is caused by the use of vibrating tools and equipment such as power drills, grinders and saws. Repeated exposure to vibration over a prolonged period of time can lead to damage to the nerves, muscles and joints of the hands and arms.
The diagnosis of HAVS is based on a medical history and physical examination. It is important to look for signs of nerve damage, such as numbness, tingling or pain. The affected areas may also show signs of swelling or discoloration. Tests such as X-rays, ultrasound, nerve conduction studies or electromyography (EMG) may be used to help diagnose HAVS.
Differential diagnosis for HAVS includes other conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome, and tendinitis. It is important to rule out these conditions in order to properly diagnose HAVS.
Treatment for HAVS depends on the severity of the condition and the underlying cause. The primary goal of treatment is to reduce the vibration exposure in order to allow the body to heal. This can be done through changes in work environment, changes in the tools and equipment used, and the use of protective gloves. Physical therapy, medications, and other therapies may also be used to reduce symptoms such as pain and numbness.
The prognosis for HAVS depends on the severity of the condition and the underlying cause. If the vibration exposure is eliminated, the condition often improves, although some cases may take months or years to resolve. In severe cases, nerve damage can be permanent.