Online first

Acta Reumatológica Portuguesa - Online First: 2020-02-08
Original article

Hand function and adaptive equipment use in patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Rodrigues M, Rodrigues J, Afonso C, Santos-Faria D, Peixoto D, Teixeira F, Neves J, Silva J, Tavares-Costa J, Alcino S, Azevedo S, Gandarez F

Abstract

Objectives: Evaluation and characterization of hand function in patients with rheumatoid (RA) arthritis and, secondarily, identification of the use of adaptive equipments. Material and methods: Firstly, a written informed consent was obtained and then an anonymous questionnaire was filled by RA outpatients after observation at the rheumatology consultation with no other musculoskeletal or neuromuscular disorders that would determine major functional impairment of hand function. Sociodemographic and clinical variables were collected and the Cochin Hand Functional Scale (CHFS) was applied. Classical deformities of hand and/or wrist were observed and recorded by the attending physician. Results: A total of 79 patients were enrolled. In the overall sample, most patients were female A sample of 79 patients, mostly female (69.60%), with a mean age of 59.72 ± 11.77 years and with a mean diagnosis duration of 11.72 ± 8.29 years. The majority (73.40%) had at least one hand or wrist deformity, the most frequent being atrophy of the interosseous muscles followed by ulnar deviation of the metacarpophalangeal joints and piano key deformity of the wrist. The mean CHFS score was 17.94 ± 18.26 points with a minimum and maximum value recorded of 0 and 80 points, respectively. The presence of hand deformities, Health Assessment Questionnaire score (HAQ), hand pain and diagnosis duration were correlated with the CHFS score. Six patients had assistive devices and only in one case it was used to overcome hand’s functional impairment. Conclusions: Most patients presented at least one classic RA deformity after a mean diagnosis duration of approximately 12 years and under pharmacological treatment. Despite this, most patients scored significantly below CHFS maximum score, but only 18 reported no difficulty in any of the tasks mentioned in the scale. The fact that only a minority of these patients had assistive devices should alerts us to the need for a more thorough functional assessment and identification of needs among RA patients.