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Assessment of Handgrip Strength in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia-Do They Differ? -An Observational Study

Prabu N, Petchiappan V, Selvam S and Dhanush M

Background: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and Fibromyalgia (FM) are chronic illnesses with pain as the common component. Hand grip function is limited in both RA and FM patients, the assessment of which might help in important decision making.

Methods and findings: We analyzed the hand grip strength in RA and FM patients with simple inexpensive hand dynamometer and compared it with age and sex matched healthy controls. Our study had 16 RA and 14 FM patients. The mean hand grip force in dominant right hand was 87.8 ± 22.7 kilograms in fibromyalgia while in RA it was 60.3 ± 21.0 kilograms. Non-dominant hand grip was 72.5 ± 25.7 kilograms in fibromyalgia while in RA it was 52.2 ± 29.3 kilograms. On comparison of the hand grip strength between RA and FM patients, we found that RA patients had a significantly lower dominant and non -dominant hand grip strength than FM patients (p=0.002 and p=0.055 respectively). When compared with age and sex matched healthy controls both dominant and non-dominant hand grip was significantly lower in RA group (p<0.001) while non-dominant hand grip strength in FM was significantly lower than controls (p<0.001).

Conclusion: Rheumatoid arthritis patients have poor handgrip than Fibromyalgia and both have poor hand grip than age matched controls.