The prevalence of sensorineural symptoms attributable to hand-transmitted vibration in Great Britain: a national postal survey

Am J Ind Med. 2000 Jul;38(1):99-107. doi: 10.1002/1097-0274(200007)38:1<99::aid-ajim11>;2-x.


Background: Exposure to hand-transmitted vibration (HTV) can cause sensorineural symptoms in the upper limb, but its impact has not previously been assessed in the general population.

Methods: To investigate, we mailed a questionnaire about exposures to HTV, finger blanching and sensory symptoms (numbness or tingling) in the upper limbs to a population sample comprising 21,201 working-aged men and women selected at random from the age-sex registers of 34 British general practices, and a further 993 randomly selected from the pay records of the armed services. Associations were explored using multiple logistic regression models to adjust for confounding, with the resultant odds ratios converted into prevalence rate ratios (PRs).

Results: Of 12,907 respondents, 2,607 (20.2%) reported sensory symptoms in the upper limb during the past week. Sensory symptoms were more prevalent in those with blanching, and were commonly associated with exposure to HTV, especially in men. In comparison with men who had never been exposed to HTV, the PR in men exposed both at work and in leisure was 2.2 (95% CI 1.9-2.4). Associations were found even in those who had never blanched.

Conclusions: Sensorineural symptoms in the upper limbs are common. HTV is an important risk factor for such complaints in the general population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Arm
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypesthesia / epidemiology*
  • Hypesthesia / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / etiology
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Vibration / adverse effects*