Prolonged exposure to hand-held vibrating tools may cause a hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), sometimes with individual susceptibility. The neurological symptoms seen in HAVS are similar to symptoms seen in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and there is a strong relationship between CTS and the use of vibrating tools. Vibration exposure to the hand is known to induce demyelination of nerve fibres and to reduce the density of myelinated nerve fibres in the nerve trunks. In view of current knowledge regarding the clinical effects of low nerve-fibre density in patients with neuropathies of varying aetiologies, such as diabetes, and that such a low density may lead to nerve entrapment symptoms, a reduction in myelinated nerve fibres may be a key factor behind the symptoms also seen in patients with HAVS and CTS. Furthermore, a reduced nerve-fibre density may result in a changed afferent signal pattern, resulting in turn in alterations in the brain, further prompting the symptoms seen in patients with HAVS and CTS. We conclude that a low nerve-fibre density lead to symptoms associated with nerve entrapment, such as CTS, in some patients with HAVS.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Environmental Health and Occupational Health