What is Vibration White Fingers?
Vibration White Finger is a condition characterized by numbness and tingling in the fingers and with associated discoloration of the fingers where they turn while on exposure to cold temperatures. This condition is seen mainly in people who use vibrating equipment or tools. Vibration white finger is characterized by episodes of blanching or fingers, especially when exposed to cold. There may be other symptoms of Vibration white finger like numbness, tingling and pain in hands and fingers; though the thumb is not normally affected by the condition. Smoking and stress can aggravate the symptoms in vibration white fingers. The symptoms can become worse and also become present permanently, if there is continuous exposure to vibration tools and equipment over months or years of experiencing the first symptoms in vibration white fingers. In rare cases, the affected person might also lose the fingers.
Causes of Vibration White Fingers:
Vibration white finger or VWF is caused by continuous use of vibrating tools like drilling machines and concrete breakers. The small and repetitive movements that take place while using such types of tools can damage the nerves over time and cause several symptoms.
Symptoms of Vibration White Fingers:
Overexposure to vibration tools and equipment causing hand and arm vibrations can cause variety of diseases commonly called Vibration White Fingers. The disease conditions can hamper normal functioning of nerves, muscles, joints, connective tissues, and blood vessels of hand or forearm. Below are some of the symptoms of vibration white finger:
Tingling or Numbness with Whitening of The Fingers:
This happens when this condition affects blood vessels and nerves. This is not immediately noticeable after a day’s work but becomes more prominent after a period of time with continuous exposure to vibration tools. When the condition is mild, only fingertips get affected but with advancement of the condition the numbness and whitening may involve the entire finger up to knuckles. There is loss of sensation of the fingers in some cases.
Changes In The Color Of Fingers:
In vibration white fingers, the blood vessels are also affected. With continuous exposure to vibration tools, the patient may suffer from periods where there is a significant color change in the fingers where they become pale rapidly and feeling in the fingers are lost; followed by reddish tinge, preceded at times by dusky blue color signifying normalcy in blood circulation to fingers. This is in most cases associated with throbbing pain.
Manual Dexterity Loss:
One more symptom of vibration white fingers, is manual dexterity loss. The nerves and muscles are affected here. In severe cases, the attacks get frequent especially in colder temperatures both at work and while participating in recreational activities like gardening or washing. It may cause severe pain that may go on for about an hour with associated dexterity loss and decreased grip strength.
There could be symptoms of bone cysts due to vibration white fingers. The disruption to the working of cells can result in the development of a fluid filled hole, inside the bone. These bone cysts appear commonly on the fingers and wrists of the sufferer, and will typically be swollen in appearance. It is always important to visit your doctor when you notice the appearance of bone cysts, as they can cause damage to the bone and also leave you at risk of bone fractures.
Severe Symptoms of Vibration White Fingers:
In extremely severe cases, the affected person may lose his fingers. The effects of this condition tend to be cumulative and worsen over a period of time. When symptoms first appear, they may again disappear after a short period of time. However, if the exposure continues, the symptoms tend to become worse and may become permanent.
Diagnosis of Vibration White Fingers
Some of the tests for a diagnosis of vibration white finger are.
Vibrotactile Threshold: How sensitive the mechanoreceptors of the nerves of the hand are get tested especially to vibration.
Aesthesiometry: The receptors of the nerves of the fingers are tested to check their sensitivity towards cold and heat.
Purdue Pegboard: This is a test to check the movement of the fingers and any dexterity loss as a result of excessive vibration.
Cold Provocation: Blanching in the fingers is confirmed with this test and provides confirmative diagnosis of vibration white fingers.
These tests can also help eliminate Raynaud’s Disease as a cause for the symptoms.
Treatments of Vibration White Fingers
Vibration White Fingers does not have any cure and treatment is aimed at relieving the symptoms.
Prescription Medicines And OTC Medications:
Some prescription and over-the-counter medicines and supplements may be beneficial in ruling out some of the symptoms of vibration white fingers. Discuss possible drug interaction with your health care provider and take the prescribed medications.
Do note that tobacco makes vibration white fingers really worse. So, if you are a smoker then do stop smoking and also restrict the use of tobacco products.
Stop Using Tools That May Worsen Symptoms:
The most important thing to manage vibration white fingers condition is to avoid any tool or equipment which has a vibration component attached to it like a drilling machine, as this will worsen the symptoms.
Avoid Amphetamines and Caffeine:
Keep it strictly noted that caffeine and amphetamines and known to trigger the symptoms of vibration white finger and should be avoided.
Make sure that you exercise your hands and whole body properly, so as to improve the blood circulation.
Keep Your Hands And Body Warm:
One more way to treat the symptoms of vibration white finger is to keep the affected hand warm in cold temperatures to allow normal blood circulation in the affected extremity. You can use Hand or body warmers for this purpose. During an episode of vibration syndrome, get the hands warmed up as quickly as possible.
Preventive Measures for Vibration White Fingers:
You need to follow some of the preventive measures; if you are using vibrating hand-held machinery or tools to complete your task.
Worker Safety And Comfort: Make sure that you are kept warm and dry, take regular breaks from work that involves vibration and exercise your fingers, consider ergonomic aids to support the weight of the tools and reduce forces applied by you or the user.
Selection Of Work Equipments: Make sure that if you can then use a tool with vibration reduction technology, such as Power Tools range of User Vibration Protection tools. Apart from this, also ensure that tools are maintained properly and regularly portable appliance testing or PAT tested. You also must keep a note that you are using high quality tools with good performance attributes and not the worn out ones.
It is also highly important for the user to be well aware of a vibrating tool’s declared vibration emission value. The user can use the information to make a risk assessment and use the tool safely.
Education And Health Surveillance: One more thing that can help prevent vibration white finger is to be educated and well known about the proper tool use and operation. Workers must also be made educated about the health effects and symptoms of vibration white fingers and also made aware of the ways for minimizing the risk of exposure. An early diagnosis of the condition is essential for effective treatment of the vibration white finger.
It is also essential for you to have health checkups on a regular basis. If you are an industrialist then provide your workers (using vibrating equipments) with regular health checkups.
Vibration White Finger Claims for Compensation:
Vibration White Finger is a pathological condition that occurs in workers who use vibrating tools. However, few have an idea that vibration white finger qualifies for compensation.
In case you work in an industry as a worker who uses vibrating tools or equipment like a drilling machine or jackhammers, if you have persistent tingling or numbness in the fingers, if the fingers become white in cold temperatures, then it is quite possible that you may have vibration white finger or VWF; and it is quite likely that the symptoms may qualify you for compensation if claimed.
You should first consult with a physician once you suffer from any of the above symptoms and still use vibrating tools at work as this may worsen your condition. If you are of the opinion the condition of vibration white fingers is due to your work at industry, you can claim for personal injury and industrial disease claims. You can seek help from expert attorneys or lawyers in your area who can provide you the best advice and even help you win a claim for vibration white fingers.
The legal experts will inform whether you qualify for compensation due to vibration white finger, what will be the cost, your rights, availability of finances through sponsors, eligibility for more treatments, how this condition will impact your professional life and the like.
So, by now you must be aware of the condition, Vibration white finger. If you or your known ones are suffering from this condition then do talk to your doctor about the most effective treatments and also consult with your lawyer to know more about the vibration white finger claims.
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