The impact of musculoskeletal hand problems in older adults: findings from the North Staffordshire Osteoarthritis Project (NorStOP)

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2007 Jun;46(6):963-7. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/kem005. Epub 2007 Feb 28.


Objectives: Hand problems are common in older people, but their impact on everyday life is not clear. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of hand problems in community-dwelling older adults and how this varies with age and gender.

Methods: Analysis was performed in 7878 subjects who responded to a baseline questionnaire. Participants defined as having hand problems were sent a second questionnaire, which included questions about hand pain and disability. Severe disability was defined as a score of 4 or more points on a validated hand and finger function scale. Estimates of 1-month period prevalence of hand pain and severe disability were calculated for the total responder population, by age and gender.

Results: 2113 persons with hand problems completed Stage 2 (78.6% response). One-year period prevalence of hand problems was 47% and estimated 1-month period prevalence of hand pain was 30.8%. These figures varied little with age. Severe hand-related disability affected 12.3% (95% confidence interval 11.3-13.3%) of this sample, was significantly more common in females than males, and increased in prevalence to the oldest age-groups.

Conclusions: Musculoskeletal hand problems are common in the population aged over 50 yrs. Most are painful, and have a significant impact on everyday life. Women and the very old appear especially vulnerable to the effect of hand problems on their daily activities.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Antirheumatic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Drug Utilization
  • England / epidemiology
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Esthetics
  • Female
  • Hand Joints / physiopathology*
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis / drug therapy
  • Osteoarthritis / epidemiology
  • Osteoarthritis / psychology
  • Osteoarthritis / rehabilitation*
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Factors


  • Antirheumatic Agents