Question:My husband runs a jack hammer all day as part of his job for a big construction company. He's starting to develop painful carpal tunnel syndrome in his right hand as a result. Can anything be done to keep this from happening in his left hand?
Answer:Vibration as a cause of work-related problems is divided into two types: whole-body vibration (WBV) and hand-arm vibration (HAV). Truck, bus, and boat drivers, helicopter operators, heavy equipment operators, miners, and others are at increased risk for WBV.
Vibration-induced white finger disease is the most common example of an occupational injury caused by vibration of the hands. This condition occurs secondary to the use of hand tools such as power saws, grinders, sanders, pneumatic drills, jackhammers. The same is true for other equipment used in construction, foundry work, machining, and mining.
Vibration has not been conclusively linked with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). The fact that not all workers using jackhammers develop CTS is a signal that something else is an precipitating factor. There may be other more important ergonomic factors present.
Studies show the highest evidence supports genetic and biologic factors as the most important risk factors for CTS. Structure of the wrist bones, tendons, and capral tunnel space formed by these structures may be the real cause. This may help explain why some people are more susceptible to CTS than others.
Preventing work-associated CTS may be possible but this has not been proven yet. Tools can be modified to reduce some of the dangerous levels of vibration. Grip kits provide grips that can be applied easily to any type of tool. Dampening products made of sorbethane reduce shock and vibration.Santiago Lozano-CalderÃ³n, MD et al. The Quality and Strength of Evidence for Etiology: Example of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. April 2008. Vol. 33A. No. 4. Pp. 525-538.
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