Prevalence of hand symptoms, impairments and activity limitations in rheumatoid arthritis in relation to disease duration
Noortje C.A. Horsten, Jennie Ursum, Leo D. Roorda, Dirkjan van Schaardenburg, Joost Dekker, Agnes F. Hoeksma
Objective: To determine the prevalence of hand and wrist symptoms and impairments, and the resulting activity limitations in relation to disease duration in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
Design and patients: A cross-sectional study included 200 consecutive patients with rheumatoid arthritis in 4 categories of disease duration: 2–4, 4–6, 6–8 and ≥ 8 years. Patients were asked about the presence of various hand and wrist symptoms, and underwent a standardized physical examination. To evaluate activity limitations, patients completed the Disabilities of the Arm Shoulder and Hand questionnaire and scored their limitations on a Numerical Rating Scale (0 = no to 10 = maximum limitation).
Results: Of all patients, 94% suffered from at least one symptom, and 67% had at least one impairment, mostly from the earliest stages onwards. The median standardized Disabilities of the Arm Shoulder and Hand score (interquartile range) was 26.7 (10.8–42.5). The mean Numerical Rating Scale score for activity limitations was 2.99 (standard deviation 2.50) in the dominant hand and 2.59 (standard deviation 2.49) in the non-dominant hand.
Conclusion: A high prevalence of hand and wrist symptoms and impairments is often already present after 2 years of disease duration. We recommend that physicians specifically screen for these symptoms and impairments, starting 2 years after the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis.
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