Pathophysiology and classification of the vibration white finger

Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2000 Apr;73(3):150-5. doi: 10.1007/s004200050021.


Skin, arteries and nerves of the upper extremities can be affected by vibration exposure. Recent advances in skin and vascular biology as well as new investigative methods, have shown that neurovascular symptoms may be due to different vascular and neurological disorders which should be differentiated if proper management is to be evaluated. Three types of vascular disorder can be observed in the vibration white finger: digital organic microangiopathy, a digital vasospastic phenomenon and arterial thrombosis in the upper extremities. An imbalance between endothelin-1 and calcitonin-gene-related peptide is probably responsible for the vasospastic phenomenon. Moreover, paresthesiae can be due to either a diffuse vibration neuropathy or a carpal tunnel syndrome. A precise diagnosis is then necessary to adapt the treatment to individual cases. A classification describing the type and severity of the vascular lesions is presented. Asymptomatic lesions are included for adequate epidemiological studies and risk assessment of vibrating tools. Monitoring of vibration exposed workers should include not only a questionnaire about symptoms, but also a clinical evaluation including diagnostic tests for the screening of early asymptomatic neurovascular injuries.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Fingers / blood supply*
  • Humans
  • Occupational Diseases / classification*
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnosis
  • Occupational Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Raynaud Disease / classification*
  • Raynaud Disease / diagnosis
  • Raynaud Disease / physiopathology*
  • Vibration / adverse effects*