• Vibration delivered to the hand and arm by industrial pneumatic tools is a common cause of vascular and neurovascular problems, including cold-induced vascular spasm (vibration white finger) and peripheral neuropathies with paresthesias, dysesthesias, and sensory abnormalities. A decade ago, the US Public Health Service estimated that 1.2 million American workers were at risk. Differentiation of primary and secondary Raynaud's phenomenon from the thoracic outlet syndrome and from the carpal tunnel syndrome pose potential diagnostic difficulties. Despite growing public recognition of upper extremity problems caused by repetitive trauma, there have been few investigations of vibration-induced disorders in the United States. This is not true worldwide, particularly in Northern Europe, where there has been significant intervention in medical surveillance and tool design. There does appear to be, however, frequent misdiagnosis and misdirected surgery. This has particular significance for the clinician, since in the 1990s, cumulative trauma injuries are expected to exceed all other work-related injuries.
(Arch Intern Med. 1990;150:519-522)