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Angle GrinderHand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) develops gradually over time so there can be many years of exposure to vibration before any symptoms become noticeable.

At first you are most likely to notice tingling or numbness, particularly in cold weather. You may experience episodes of colour change in the skin of the finger tips, often on exposure to cold. With continued exposure to vibration these symptoms may become more pronounced, occur more frequently and last for longer lengths of time.

How does HAVS affect sufferers?

The condition causes pain and discomfort and can lead to loss of grip and significant impairment of manual dexterity. In turn this can cause difficulty in handling small objects.

Continued exposure to vibration can cause these symptoms to become permanent and seriously disabling. The symptoms can affect your ability to carry out your job as well domestic activities such as DIY. The condition can effect enjoyment of activities such as outdoor sports and swimming and hobbies such as fishing and gardening. Eventually, performing even basic tasks such as dressing and undressing, brushing teeth and using a mobile phone may prove difficult.

Additional symptoms may include the following:

  • Sleep disturbance (caused by pain and discomfort)
  • Reduced sensation in the fingers
  • Loss of digital strength
  • 'Waxy' white fingers, and/or red and painful hands, in cold weather
  • Difficulty picking up small objects such as screws or nails

The Three Categories of HAVS

HAVS can be a vascular, musculoskeletal or neurological injury or any combination of these. There is a lot of crossover between these injury types. However, the three categories can be usefully understood as follows:

Vascular Injury, Musculoskeletal injuries and Neurological injuries

  • Vascular injury: Consistent and repeated exposure to vibration can cause damage to blood vessels in the extremities, which then results in reduced blood flow. This is made worse by cold conditions and sufferers of vascular HAVS typically experience their hands turning from pink to white.
  • Musculoskeletal injuries: HAVS can precipitate or exacerbate musculoskeletal injuries such as arthritis and tendonitis. This can affect mobility, grip strength and quality of life.
  • Neurological injuries: Neurological damage can result in numbness and tingling in the extremities as well as feelings of heaviness and fatigue.

HAVS compensation claims

Fortunately, once exposure to vibration is reduced or stopped altogether, the symptoms should not get any worse. In fact, in certain cases there may be some improvement in the severity of the condition once vibration exposure ceases. That said, long-term and sometimes degenerative neurological damage can occur and symptoms may be exacerbated by cold conditions even once the sufferer has ceased to be exposed to vibration.

Most people who are diagnosed with HAVS experience long-term pain, discomfort and debilitation. If you would like to consider your right to a compensation claim for the condition, talk to an expert on 0800 0891331. We are Scotland's leading personal injury firm and can help you in achieving the best possible outcome for your circumstances.

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