Vibration White Finger: Treatment & Prevention

Physical therapist using electrodes on patient arm
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Vibration white finger, or Raynaud's disease, is also called hand-arm vibration syndrome and is a repetitive stress injury caused by exposure of the hands to vibrating equipment. It's a neurological injury and may be associated with pain, tingling, and numbness in the hands, a loss of sensitivity, and a decrease in grip strength. Fingers may become white and swollen when cold and then red and painful when rewarmed.

If you have been diagnosed with vibration white finger or fear you might develop it, it is time to look at treatments and prevention. Vibration white finger is a cumulative disorder with no cure after you have developed it. However, the same measures you can take to prevent the disorder can help reduce the frequency and duration of white finger episodes. Other symptomatic treatments can ease your suffering as well.

Cause of Vibration White Finger

Tools that cause the vibration syndrome include jackhammers, angle grinders, chain saws, power lawn mowers, and like equipment, though vibrating electronic game controllers can also contribute.

Episodes of vascular spasms that cause the white finger are usually triggered by exposure to cold or by contact with cold surfaces. Wet and damp conditions can also exacerbate the condition. Controlling the triggering cause can go a long way to reducing symptoms.

Prevention

If you use vibrating equipment on a regular basis, you are at risk for developing vibration white finger. Preventive measures can ward off this syndrome.

  • Use sound ergonomic equipment that reduces vibration transference to the hands.
  • Use vibration-absorbing gloves or pads. Gel padding is better than foam padding for protecting your hands against vibration.
  • Hold equipment loosely.
  • Work in short durations with frequent breaks. Take at least one 10-minute break every hour.
  • Keep your hands warm to keep blood flowing.
  • Avoid smoking or taking drugs or substances that inhibit blood flow.

Maintain a Healthy Body

You need to stay healthy and fit. Maintain a healthy weight. Strong bodies are more resilient against the stressors that cause vibration white finger. Maintain good cardiovascular health. Good blood flow to the hands is crucial.

Treatment

Although vibration white finger has no known cure, some practices can alleviate the symptoms.

  • Stop using vibrating equipment. The more you vibrate the affected area, the worse it will get.
  • Stop smoking and the use of tobacco products. Tobacco makes the disorder worse.
  • Caffeine and amphetamines can trigger bouts of vibration white finger. Remove these from your diet.
  • Some prescription and over-the-counter drugs and supplements may trigger bouts as well if they restrict blood flow. Discuss possible drug interactions with your health care provider.
  • Stay warm and avoid cold triggers.
  • Exercise your hands and body to improve circulation.
  • Keep your whole body warm outdoors in cold temperatures, to keep circulation moving to your extremities. Hand warmers and battery-warmed gloves may be useful.
  • When a bout of vibration syndrome occurs, warm the hands as fast as possible.
  • Medication: Some medications do provide some effectiveness in treating vibration white finger. Talk to your doctor for more information.
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Adams, Chris. "Vibration White Finger: Treatment & Prevention." ThoughtCo, Apr. 15, 2018, thoughtco.com/vibration-white-finger-treatment-1206792. Adams, Chris. (2018, April 15). Vibration White Finger: Treatment & Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/vibration-white-finger-treatment-1206792 Adams, Chris. "Vibration White Finger: Treatment & Prevention." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/vibration-white-finger-treatment-1206792 (accessed April 26, 2018).