Chainsaw Vibration and Hand/Arm Health

castanea

Member
Has anyone had success mitigating fatigue and inflammation in the hands and arms?

I'm 32 and mostly fall trees to clear for new power lines. In some cases I'm cutting hundreds of trees a week with a skid steer slamming it all into a chipper as quickly as possible. Inflammation and weakness in my hands is becoming more common, and I think that the vibration of the saw is the main factor aside from the repetitive movements. I'll switch industries within the next few years because I know I won't last and this seems like more of a gig than a career path, but I'm interested in hearing recommendations on saving my hands from long term damage.

I can run the skid steer more but I dont trust the other guy 100% as a faller. At least on a motorcycle I feel like gloves make me grip tighter, increasing discomfort, but maybe thinner gloves would help. Maybe some sort of soft grip or wrap to absorb vibration on the handles? Saws in top shape also makes the cutting easier of course.

My hands are often stiff when I wake up and I've even felt like I couldnt firmly grasp small parts sometimes. Its really unsettling at this age.
 

TimBr

Official Well Known Greeter
@castanea; Thanks for starting this thread. It is an interesting subject, and I cannot help but think there must be others out there that have similar symptoms. I once worked with a guy who could not work with a vibrating ground tamper at all because of the damage he felt the machine was doing to his hands very quickly. Numbness, etc.

I once had a pair of gloves that I purchased for riding a racing style bicycle, that had gel packs built into the palms of the gloves, to help take pressure off of the nerves or whatever it is in there that gets affected by the constant pressure of leaning on your hands for hours. Maybe something like that could help your situation. Just a thought.

Tim
 

Jonny

Well-Known Member
Location
Buffalo
I'm amazed at the difference in vibration between my Stihl 036 and my MS361. I haven't yet used an ms362, but reducing vibration seems to be at the top of the list when it comes to engineering new professional saws. I assume the 362 is even smoother. Same deal with ms441 compared to ms440. Noticeably less vibe on newer saws that have metal spring AV mounts compared to rubber mounts.

Another biggie is being gentle when filing down the rakers/ depth gauges. You can always take off more if needed, but take off too much and it can get painful.
 

ROYCE

Well-Known Member
Location
Vermont
Has anyone had success mitigating fatigue and inflammation in the hands and arms?

I'm 32 and mostly fall trees to clear for new power lines. In some cases I'm cutting hundreds of trees a week with a skid steer slamming it all into a chipper as quickly as possible. Inflammation and weakness in my hands is becoming more common, and I think that the vibration of the saw is the main factor aside from the repetitive movements. I'll switch industries within the next few years because I know I won't last and this seems like more of a gig than a career path, but I'm interested in hearing recommendations on saving my hands from long term damage.

I can run the skid steer more but I dont trust the other guy 100% as a faller. At least on a motorcycle I feel like gloves make me grip tighter, increasing discomfort, but maybe thinner gloves would help. Maybe some sort of soft grip or wrap to absorb vibration on the handles? Saws in top shape also makes the cutting easier of course.

My hands are often stiff when I wake up and I've even felt like I couldnt firmly grasp small parts sometimes. Its really unsettling at this age.
This is a major thing to be concerned about. I have not heard any major complaints in the last several years about this. But 1) That could be that people I work with are not cutting as much as you and 2) the saws have gotten better with the anti vibration they build into the saws. Years ago it was a crazy amount of vibration that used to come off the saws. I never used one of those style saws for more than a few cuts...but they vibrate.

In regards to your concern I would make sure your hydrated. People overlook this and it plays a major role in our bodies performance.( Hydrate with water:) I would also stretch your arms and most importantly your finders and wrists. Do it twice a day. That can greatly increase the blood flow and circulation and can help. The other thing to think about is maybe a bigger handle on the saw? Or a padded saw handle. That might take some getting used to and may be uncomfortable at first. Might have to custom make them...as I am not sure there are any on the market.
 

TallTreeClimber

Well-Known Member
Location
Beautiful South
I've got alot to say about this and this is a great thread subject...I'll say more when I get in front of a real computer. Let me just add that I wore Ill fitting steel toes that dug into my last three toes for 9 years. It wasn't terrible, just a little rub. 7 years later I have numbness in those toes still. I'm 44 and my right forearm is always sore from grinder use in my 20's.

It's real, listen to your body.

Also, a single Turmeric capsule each day makes coping much better. $10 for a 400 pill bottle. It's a wonder-herb.
 
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New2trees

Well-Known Member
Location
Maryland
Also in addition to the low rakers another consideration is high rakers and keeping the chain as sharp as practical. Sharp chain and rakers properly set will allow the saw to do its share of the work not the sawyer. No clue on your diet, but if its poor supplementation with B complex, D and Omega 3s will go a long way.
 

Gorman

Well-Known Member
Location
Rhode Island
This is a major thing to be concerned about. I have not heard any major complaints in the last several years about this. But 1) That could be that people I work with are not cutting as much as you and 2) the saws have gotten better with the anti vibration they build into the saws. Years ago it was a crazy amount of vibration that used to come off the saws. I never used one of those style saws for more than a few cuts...but they vibrate.

In regards to your concern I would make sure your hydrated. People overlook this and it plays a major role in our bodies performance.( Hydrate with water:) I would also stretch your arms and most importantly your finders and wrists. Do it twice a day. That can greatly increase the blood flow and circulation and can help. The other thing to think about is maybe a bigger handle on the saw? Or a padded saw handle. That might take some getting used to and may be uncomfortable at first. Might have to custom make them...as I am not sure there are any on the market.
Yea, hydrate especially during the winter since your body doesn’t let you know when your thirsty like during the summer months for some reason.
 

Crimsonking

Well-Known Member
All the points so far are great- hydration, turmeric, sharp chain (this is huge for reducing wear and tear on both you and the saw), and diet. Two biggies in diet is more green and less sugar. Count beer as sugar, btw. Sad, right?

I’ve had such irritation in my hands and forearms that there was visible swelling around a nerve in my arm. I could barely grip a wedge and hammer, let alone a 660.

Since I’ve focused more on my diet, that irritation has only tried to show its ugly head once more in 7 years, and was a fraction of the pain.
 
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misfit

Active Member
Location
Baton Rouge
Vibration is certainly a factor, but I suspect that hand position is even more important. The top of your hand should be level with the top of your forearm. Bending the hand at the wrist up or down repetitively or holding it bent for a long period of time such as while cutting can cause swelling which presses on the nerves in the carpal tunnel affecting your thumbs, the next two fingers and half the ring finger. Bending the hand at the wrist side to side or holding it to one side for a long time can cause swelling in the ulnar tunnel which affects your little fingers and one side of the ring finger. It doesn't matter if you are using a chainsaw, weed eater or typing at a keyboard or playing the piano. Hand position is very important, and the vibration will make it worse. Take note of your hand position while cutting to see if this is an issue with you. If so, make an effort to keep your hand in line with your forearm and take frequent breaks.
 

evo

Well-Known Member
Location
My Island, WA
My hands, wrists, and fore arms are fucken screaming at me this week. Hardly have touched a power saw. Lots of fruit tree pruning, and climbing. Stretching helps so so much. There is a Tai
Chi move called "Tea Cup" it gets all those hard to stretch muscles and tendons. This is a random video but it shows the moves.. Once you get good at it, half fill a tea cup with water and balance it in your hand, don't spill.
The answer to your direct question, some folks use bicycle foam grip tape on the left handle. I do plan on doing this, but making it lumpy so I have different diameters to grip. If it doesnt help, its cake to rip it off.
 

KTSmith

Well-Known Member
The OP's concern for "fatigue and inflammation" might be something more: White finger syndrome aka vibration white finger (and other variations in wording). There is much online about it, be careful what you read!

I don't use a saw much now, but at the end of my peak usage, I had trouble in opening my hand to release my grip. As well as the tingling and loss of sensation.
Much better now!
 

shankenstein

Member
Location
Twin Cities
Carpal tunnel and tendinitis are extremely common in this industry. I am certain that many more people suffer from the symptoms than are talking about it. At this point, if I do a really big removal day, I’m going to have a rough couple nights of sleep; numb hands and sometimes waking with sharp pains. You can identify CTS by having pain/numbness focused on thumb, pointer and middle fingers alone. I know that diet and hydration are god for you, period. Otherwise, google it and find a stretching routine, it helps. TCIA tailgate safety book has a section that describes a good stretching routine. I’m gonna say that stretching and warming up your body before work are every bit as important as hydration and nutrition. I also sleep with braces if I think the pain is going to be bad and that makes
A big difference.
 

TimBr

Official Well Known Greeter
@Treezybreez; Thanks to you and all of the other people posting tips in this thread. I am still amazed all the time at having this forum to learn from, and with all of the knowledge possessed by its members.

Why is it that you say to avoid soft drinks? Is it because it is considered to be a diuretic? Or for some other reasons? Thanks.

Tim
 

kiteflyingeek

Active Member
Location
Newburgh, IN
Before I started my tree business, I was a software engineer for 20 years. That helped set me up for carpel tunnel syndrome :cry: I know I have damaged nerves since I have a constant tingle. The chainsaw & rope climbing are the damage culprits.

One thing that I have found really helps is reducing (actually, eliminating) table salt from my diet. As long as I stay really low sodium, my hands & fingers are "okay". That is REALLY hard since every restaurant & prepackaged food item has SOO much salt.

No, before anyone gets all, "you need salt or you die". Yup, you do. But not the amount that the SAD includes that most eat. That is, Standard American Diet.

Water is another key component. I do well in the summer but it is definitely harder in the winter.

I wasn't aware of the problems that sugars added -- I'll have to stop eating so many sweets :ROFLMAO:. I also will be adding tumeric.

Now, I'm no doctor & I don't play one on TV so don't blame me if your truck blows a cylinder when you stop eating salt. :rebotando:

Also, thanks to @Jehinten for making sure I saw this thread.

--andrew
 

TallTreeClimber

Well-Known Member
Location
Beautiful South
Before I started my tree business, I was a software engineer for 20 years. That helped set me up for carpel tunnel syndrome :cry: I know I have damaged nerves since I have a constant tingle. The chainsaw & rope climbing are the damage culprits.

One thing that I have found really helps is reducing (actually, eliminating) table salt from my diet. As long as I stay really low sodium, my hands & fingers are "okay". That is REALLY hard since every restaurant & prepackaged food item has SOO much salt.

No, before anyone gets all, "you need salt or you die". Yup, you do. But not the amount that the SAD includes that most eat. That is, Standard American Diet.

Water is another key component. I do well in the summer but it is definitely harder in the winter.

I wasn't aware of the problems that sugars added -- I'll have to stop eating so many sweets :ROFLMAO:. I also will be adding tumeric.

Now, I'm no doctor & I don't play one on TV so don't blame me if your truck blows a cylinder when you stop eating salt. :rebotando:

Also, thanks to @Jehinten for making sure I saw this thread.

--andrew
I'll have to monitor my salt and see how it affects me. I'd never paid any attention before, but I eat pretty healthily already so my salt might not be so high.
 

Serf Life

Well-Known Member
Location
Maine Island
My buddy calls it "doorknob hands," they are stuck closed and ya can barely open a door. My issue was majorly helped by SRT (not in your case) and stretches I learned from an older TCIA mag:
1)Fist to fan stretch
2)Make a fist and push against your fingers of the other hand which is flat open (you feel the strech in your wrist)
Also the cold up here makes everything worse...
 

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