What is Vibration White Finger?

A repetitive stress injury, Vibration White Finger causes the fingers to turn white due to periodical spasms of small blood vessels which constrict the supply of blood to the fingertips. The next stage causes the fingertips to turn blue as the blood’s available oxygen supply is used up and finally, they turn red as the spasms subside and the fingertips receive a fresh supply of oxygenated blood.

The causes

The spasms that result in Vibration White Finger can be caused by a variety of reasons. The injury is known as Raynaud’s Disease when it occurs because of drugs or physiological issues, and Raynaud’s Phenomenon if caused by trauma. Vibration White Finger is usually the result of prolonged exposure to vibrating tools, such as chain saws, hammer drills, concrete vibrators, lawn mowers etc. Other common causes include:

  • Regularly using a tight grip.

  • Poor blood circulation due to health, tobacco use, or cold.

  • Being exposed directly without protective equipment.

  • Exposure to vibration for a large area of the hands.

The symptoms

If your fingers turn white, especially when exposed to the cold, there is a good chance that you are suffering from Vibration White Finger. The full cycle of the injury causes the fingertips to go from white to blue to red. However, it need not be achieved fully for you to actually have Vibration White Finger. The spasms are usually triggered when you come into contact with or are exposed to cold and are accompanied by sensations of numbness, tingling, and pain.

Since it is a cumulative disorder, the bouts of spasms could become more frequent, longer, more uncomfortable, and the triggers might become shorter. Keeping the hands warm during a spasm can usually ease the discomfort.

The treatment

Unfortunately, there is no cure of the Vibration White Finger once you have developed it as it is a cumulative disorder. Once diagnosed, the best you can do is try to ensure that the spasms are not triggered. Vascular spasms – those that cause white fingertips – usually result from contact with or exposure to cold. You can decrease the duration and the frequency of the spasms by controlling such causative factors.

The prevention

Since Vibration White Finger has no known cure, you would want to be particularly keen on preventing it. People who use vibrating equipment regularly are most at risk of developing this syndrome. To minimize its risks, you should:

  • Control your exposure to vibrations by working with plenty of breaks. A 10-minute break after every hour of work is usually recommended.

  • Reduce the transference of vibration to your hands through the use of appropriate ergonomic equipment.

  • Wear pads or gloves that absorb vibration – gel padding provides better protection against vibration compared to foam padding.

  • Try to hold the equipment with a loose grip.

  • Try to keep your hands warm at all times and avoid smoking to improve the flow of blood to the fingertips.

There are various measures and precautions that can be employed to prevent Vibration White Finger. If you happen to suffer from it and feel justified in making a compensation claim against your employer’s oversight or negligence, contact Accident Advice Helpline on 0800 689 0500 for help with your claim.

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