Hand Exercises: Difference between revisions


Hand exercises are a beneficial intervention for improving hand mobility, strength, and functional ability.

They may include:

  • Mobilising exercises to increase or maintain range of motion.
  • Strengthening exercises using resistance from putty, a gel ball, or elastic bands.
  • Stretching exercises to increase muscle flexibility of the fingers and wrist.

There are many conditions that may affect the hand and need exercise as an intervention to help patients to perform their ADL activities independently and increase the strength of handgrip. [1]

Common Conditions Affecting Hand:[edit | edit source]

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are two common conditions that affect the hand and require exercise as an intervention to help patients perform daily activities independently and increase hand strength.

Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease and frequently affects the hand, leading to pain, swelling, stiffness, deformity, and gradual loss of function.[2] [3]A study found that hand exercises were well-tolerated and significantly improved activity performance, grip strength, pain, and fatigue in women with osteoarthritis.[4].

Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common polyarthritis and affecting 0.24 to 1% of the population. RA patients often experience hand and wrist problems like inflammation, deformity, pain, weakness, and restricted mobility, resulting in loss of function. Hand exercises can help strengthen muscles and tendons in the hand and forearms, improve range of motion in the fingers and thumbs, and enhance hand function.[5][6]

Hand exercises[edit | edit source]

iSARAH Hand Exercises[edit | edit source]

The iSARAH program is a tailored hand exercise program designed to help patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) improve hand strength and flexibility. [7]

A multi-trial conducted in the UK involving 490 adult RA patients concluded that the iSARAH program is a worthwhile, low-cost intervention to provide as an adjunct to various drug regimens.[8] [9]

The program includes 11 flexibility and strength exercises, along with behavioral change support strategies recommended by health professionals to help patients adhere to their exercise regimen and make hand exercising a daily habit.

A qualitative longitudinal study found that establishing a routine was an important step towards participants being able to exercise independently, and therapists provided participants with the skills to continue exercising while dealing with changes in symptoms and schedules. [10]Healthcare professionals can take the course for the iSARAH hand program to effectively implement this evidence-based hand exercise program into their practice.

For more information on the iSARAH program, healthcare professionals can visit the following link: iSARAH Hand Program.

  1. Ellegaard K, von Bülow C, Røpke A, Bartholdy C, Hansen IS, Rifbjerg-Madsen S, Henriksen M, Wæhrens EE. Hand exercise for women with rheumatoid arthritis and decreased hand function: an exploratory randomized controlled trial. Arthritis research & therapy. 2019 Dec 1;21(1):158.
  2. Fife RS, Klippel J. Primer on the rheumatic diseases.
  3. Stamm TA, Machold KP, Smolen JS, Fischer S, Redlich K, Graninger W, Ebner W, Erlacher L. Joint protection and home hand exercises improve hand function in patients with hand osteoarthritis: a randomized controlled trial. Arthritis Care & Research: Official Journal of the American College of Rheumatology. 2002 Feb;47(1):44-9.
  4. Hennig T, Hæhre L, Hornburg VT, Mowinckel P, Norli ES, Kjeken I. Effect of home-based hand exercises in women with hand osteoarthritis: a randomised controlled trial. Annals of the rheumatic diseases. 2015 Aug 1;74(8):1501-8.
  5. Williams MA, Srikesavan C, Heine PJ, Bruce J, Brosseau L, Hoxey‐Thomas N, Lamb SE. Exercise for rheumatoid arthritis of the hand. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2018(7).
  6. Lamb SE, Williamson EM, Heine PJ, Adams J, Dosanjh S, Dritsaki M, Glover MJ, Lord J, McConkey C, Nichols V, Rahman A. Exercises to improve function of the rheumatoid hand (SARAH): a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet. 2015 Jan 31;385(9966):421-9.
  7. Hall AM, Copsey B, Williams M, Srikesavan C, Lamb SE, Sarah Trial Team. Mediating effect of changes in hand impairments on hand function in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: exploring the mechanisms of an effective exercise program. Arthritis care & research. 2017 Jul;69(7):982-8.
  8. Lamb SE, Williamson EM, Heine PJ, Adams J, Dosanjh S, Dritsaki M, Glover MJ, Lord J, McConkey C, Nichols V, Rahman A. Exercises to improve function of the rheumatoid hand (SARAH): a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet. 2015 Jan 31;385(9966):421-9.
  9. Williams MA, Williamson EM, Heine PJ, Nichols V, Glover MJ, Dritsaki M, Adams J, Dosanjh S, Underwood M, Rahman A, McConkey C. Strengthening And stretching for Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Hand (SARAH). A randomised controlled trial and economic evaluation.
  10. Nichols VP, Williamson E, Toye F, Lamb SE. A longitudinal, qualitative study exploring sustained adherence to a hand exercise programme for rheumatoid arthritis evaluated in the SARAH trial. Disability and rehabilitation. 2017 Aug 28;39(18):1856-63.

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