Objectives: First to determine the range of motion (ROM) of selected foot and hand joints with a goniometer, 2.) to determine joint limitation by prayer sign and 3.) to compare both methods used.
Methods: Maximal active ROM was measured by goniometry (Method 1) in 50 patients with Type 1 diabetes and in 44 healthy controls, respectively. The lower limits for normal ranges were defined as mean minus 2 SD. To elicit the prayer sign (Method 2) subjects were asked to put their hands together in a praying position with the fingers fanned. The number of missing joint contacts between the fingers was counted and correlated to ROM.
Results: The ROM of all joints measured, except that of the thumb, was significantly smaller in diabetic patients than in control subjects. The degree of the prayer sign was well correlated to the ROM of most hand joints, but was solely correlated in feet to ankle ROM. In diabetic patients the prevalence of limited joint mobility (LJM) measured by goniometry ranged from 2 to 20% in hand joints and from 10 to 14% in foot joints. By the prayer sign 33% of the diabetic patients had LJM.
Conclusion: With both methods, diabetic patients had more limitations in joint motion than control subjects, as was their prevalence of LJM higher. Since the prayer sign was correlated to exactly measured ROMs, we would suggest using the prayer sign as a simple clinical indicator for LJM in diabetic subjects.