To study the course of vibration white finger (VWF) 55 men were re-examined three and a half to six years after the first examination. The patients were interviewed and finger systolic pressure after general body and local finger cooling was measured. The test results at the two examinations were compared. At the follow up examination some patients experienced a subjective improvement of VWF symptoms but not until more than three years had passed after they had stopped working with vibrating tools. To study the effect of diminished cold exposure on subjective symptoms, vibration exposed outdoor workers who changed to unexposed indoor work were studied separately. In this subgroup also improvement was reported only when more than three years has passed after the change of work, indicating that diminished cold exposure is not the primary explanation for the improvement. The cold provocation test, however, showed no tendency towards a diminished reaction of the vessels to cooling. Patients who continue to work with vibrating tools report a subjective increase in symptoms. This subjective impairment was reflected in an increased reaction to cold as measured in the cold provocation test.
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