Hand function and performance of daily activities in systemic lupus erythematosus

Arthritis Rheum. 2008 Oct 15;59(10):1432-8. doi: 10.1002/art.24108.


Objective: To investigate hand problems in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and to explore consequences on the ability to perform daily activities.

Methods: One hundred nine patients with SLE completed a questionnaire assessing hand problems in terms of deficits in body structures, e.g., joints, and body functions including pain, grip force, and other physiologic functions of the hand, the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ), and the Simple hand test. Patients who stated problems in hand function answered questions about performance of daily activities and to what extent different deficits in body structures and body functions interfered.

Results: Seventy-three percent of patients experienced hand problems and 42% reported interference with performance of daily activities. Problems from body structures of the hand were distributed relatively evenly over joints and tendons/muscles. Reduced grip force and activity-induced pain were the most commonly reported problems in body functions. The most affected activity area was productivity, namely household tasks, work at home, work/study, and child care; least affected was self-care. Reduced grip force followed by fumbling and pain were the most frequently reported body functions to create difficulties in performing daily activities. When comparing patients with and without difficulties in performing daily activities, there were significant differences in problems from tendons/muscles, joints in the thumb, reduced force, stiffness, fumbling, numbness/tingling, and the HAQ.

Conclusion: A majority of the study group had hand problems and almost half of the group experienced difficulties in performing daily activities due to SLE. The most affected activity area was productivity, where reduced grip force, fumbling, and pain were the most interfering body functions.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Female
  • Hand / physiology*
  • Hand Strength*
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Skills