RA Patients Gain the Upper Hand With Exercises

October 17, 2014

Tailored exercises are effective in retraining and restoring hand function in rheumatoid arthritis.

Lamb SE, Williamson EM, Heine PJ, et al. on behalf of the SARAH Trial Team. Exercises to improve function of the rheumatoid hand (SARAH): a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet, (2014) Online October 1-. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(14)60998-3

Tailored hand exercises improve function and quality of life in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients, according to English researchers.

Those in the exercise group saw greater improvements in overall hand function based on the Michigan Hand Outcomes Questionnaire function score at 12 months (7.9 points versus 3.6 points) than did patients in a usual care group.

Tailored exercises prove effective in restoring and retraining hand function, with positive effects on activities of daily living, the authors state in The Lancet.

They enrolled 490 adults with RA, who reported pain and dysfunction of the hands and were on a stable drug regimen, to tailored strengthening and stretching hand exercise program or to usual care.

They point out that patients showed good compliance with their home exercises, particularly in the first 4 months.

The author of an accompanying commentary points out that the therapists who deliver these types of exercise programs require “initial training and brief subsequent booster sessions to ensure appropriate delivery of the intervention.”

Trial materials are available at: http://www.octru.ox.ac.uk/interventions/SARAHtrial .