Objective: To determine the effect of joint protection and home exercises on hand function of patients with hand osteoarthritis (OA).
Methods: Randomized, controlled, 3-month trial with a blinded assessor. Primary outcome parameter was grip strength; secondary parameters were Health Assessment Questionnaire and visual analog scales (VAS) for pain and global hand function. Forty patients with hand OA were randomly assigned to 2 groups: One group received instruction for joint protection and home hand exercises (JPE group), the control group received an information session about hand OA.
Results: Grip strength improved by 25% in the JPE group (right hand, P < 0.0001; left hand, P = 0.0005), but not in the control group. Global hand function (by VAS) improved in a larger proportion (65%) of patients in the JPE group (P < 0.05).
Conclusions: Joint protection and hand home exercises, easily administered and readily acceptable interventions, were found to increase grip strength and global hand function.