That tingling feeling in your fingers or hands may indicate a serious problem. Repeated use of jack hammers, drills, sanders, lawn mowers, and other vibrating tools can damage small blood vessels in the hands and fingers, reducing blood flow. When the affected hands and fingers are subsequently exposed to cold, a person can experience pain, numbness, tingling, and throbbing. This condition goes under a variety of names, including white finger, Raynaud’s disease, Raynaud’s phenomenon, and Raynaud’s syndrome.
For many people affected, the condition is merely bothersome. But in more serious cases ulcers can appear on the fingers or hands. In severe cases, amputation of one or more fingers may be necessary.
Symptoms of Raynaud’s
Whatever you call it, Raynaud’s is a chronic condition that can worsen with repeated use of vibrating tools. Once a person has the condition, exposure to cold can turn the fingers white or blue within minutes and numbness can set in. When blood flow returns to the affected area, it will turn red, followed by pain and tingling. A person with Raynaud’s may find it difficult to pick up small objects or perform simple tasks such as buttoning a shirt.
How to reduce the risk of Raynaud’s
Workers who use vibrating tools repeatedly can reduce the possibility of developing Raynaud’s disease by taking these precautions:
- Keep tools in good working order to reduce vibration
- Use tools that have anti-vibration features
- Don’t keep a tight grip on the tool if possible
- Take frequent breaks and alternate use of the tool with other tasks
- Keep your hands warm while using vibrating tools
Use of tobacco or consumption of caffeinated beverages can increase a person’s risk for Raynaud’s.
Treatments for Raynaud’s
If you suffer from pain, tingling, or numbness in your hands, see a doctor. Your physician may refer you to a specialist such as a rheumatologist. Mild cases of Raynaud’s disease can be successfully treated with medications, including calcium channel blockers (also used to treat high blood pressure), alpha blockers, and vasodilators. Some people have found self-help help measures to be effective, such as exercise routines.
When a person suffers severe symptoms, such as intense pain or ulcers that do not respond to treatment, surgery may be recommended. In the procedure known as digital sympathectomy, a surgeon makes tiny cuts to nerves in the fingers. It’s not always effective, but it may prevent the need to amputate a finger.
The Raynaud’s Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing support and education to people who suffer from the condition. Its website has much useful information concerning the subject.
If you suffer from Raynaud’s disease, you may want to discuss your case with an attorney. Workers’ compensation benefits may be available to cover your medical costs and wage losses.