Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic inflammatory disease with a particular predilection for causing pain, deformity and functional limitation affecting the hands. Measures of the severity of RA, such as the disease activity score with 28 joint count may not fully reflect the regional impact of RA on the hands. Hand grip strength measurements are a form of objective assessment that focuses specifically on the hands in RA. This review explores what is currently known about the assessment of hand grip strength; what it may indicate, how it is measured, some of the practical aspects and challenges associated with performing these tests, and how this information can be applied in a clinical setting. It summarises the role that grip strength has in assessing patients with RA and finishes with some recommendations for how to use grip strength measurements in clinical practice, and what direction future research might take.
Keywords: Clinical protocols; Disease progression; Equipment design; Hand strength; Monitoring; Physical examination; Physiological; Rehabilitation; Rheumatoid arthritis.