Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1987;13(4):290-300    pdf


Bone and joint pathology in workers using hand-held vibrating tools. An overview.

by Gemne G, Saraste H

A literature evaluation was made with regard to the radiological documentation of bone and joint pathology in the hands and arms of workers using vibrating tools. There is evidence that work with pneumatic percussive tools (such as chipping hammers and scalers) may cause premature elbow and wrist osteoarthrosis, although of very low prevalence. This work-related disorder is not specific to vibration exposure. Instead, it is likely to result from the strong dynamic and static joint loading (often in extreme positions of the joint) and the repetitive hand-arm movements (sometimes also repeated minor traumatization) typical for tool manipulation in any heavy labor. Exposure to low-frequency percussion may, however, play a particular etiologic role: damage to the joint cartilage by repeated shocks from the tool, additional articular load (and consequent strain) associated with a vibration-induced increase in the need for joint stabilization and higher gripping forces, the tonic vibration reflex (which increases muscle contraction), and a stronger grip induced when tactile sensibility is diminished by vibration. So far, no investigations have ventured into the great complexity of possible confounders and effect modifiers. -A constitutional susceptibility may be required to produce osteoarthrosis. -The allegation that hand-arm vibration exposure causes an excess prevalence of bone cysts, vacuoles, Kienbock's disease, or pseudarthrosis of the scaphoid has not been validly documented. -Exposure to vibration of higher frequencies (such as from rotating drills, grinders, and chain saws) does not seem to be associated with excess bone and joint pathology. -The observed large variation in the prevalence of skeletal disorders may be explained by biodynamic and ergonomic differences between various occupations.

The following article refers to this text: 2014;40(2):133-145