Hand osteoarthritis symptoms reduce after occupational therapy intervention

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hand arthritis, hand osteoarthritis, hand joint pain, hand pain relief, arthritis digest, arthritis support, occupational therapyAn approach based on a number of strategies has been associated with improved pain and strength in a people with hand osteoarthritis, according to findings presented at the Osteoarthritis Research Society International World Congress.

The intervention group

A total of 90 people with hand osteoarthritis were taught exercises to improve grip, pinch strength, mobility, stability and stretching. The exercises were performed three times a week for three months. The participants were given two orthoses (ie a type of splint) to wear “as much as possible” in the day or night.

The control group

People in the intervention group were compared with 90 people who also had hand osteoarthritis but were only given educational materials on hand osteoarthritis.

The findings

Not all of the people in the intervention group adhered to the suggestions:

  • 82% did the exercises;
  • 61% wore the orthoses during the day;
  • 54% wore the orthoses at night.

Even so, overall, those in the intervention group had improved pain levels, grip strength and pinch strength compared to those in the control group.

“The intervention group showed a significant improvement for all three measures, while the control group did not, or even did a bit worse,” Dr Ann Tveter, who led the study, says.

Range of motion didn’t improve according to other measures, “possibly because range of motion was not particularly impaired at baseline,” Dr Tveter explains.

Some found the orthoses a little uncomfortable (eight people) and a similar number reported pain during exercises.

“A multimodal occupational therapy intervention had significant short-term effect on pain, grip strength, and function in patients referred to surgical consultation,” Dr Tveter concludes.

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