Finger workout may help scleroderma sufferers
Finger-stretching exercises can improve range of motion in the joints of individuals who suffer from scleroderma (also known as systemic sclerosis)—a chronic disease that causes skin thickening and tightening and the formation of scar tissue.
“Our results indicate that rehabilitation by stretching of the fingers may be effective for improving and maintaining hand function,” the study team concludes in the Journal of Rheumatology.
Dr. Minoru Hasegawa, of Kanazawa University Graduate School of Medical Science, Ishikawa, Japan, and colleagues assessed the efficacy of self-administered stretching of each finger in 32 patients with diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis and 13 with limited cutaneous systemic sclerosis.
The patients received instruction on finger stretching exercises and were asked to perform them daily. Each finger was maintained in a stretched position using the opposite hand for 10 seconds; this was repeated 3 to 10 times.
After 1 month of finger stretching, the total passive range of motion was significantly improved and was maintained or further improved at 1 year.
Patients with diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis had less range of motion than those with limited cutaneous systemic sclerosis. However, there was a significant increase in range of motion regardless of disease duration or severity of skin sclerosis.
Although the overall mean scores on the Health Assessment Questionnaire were not significantly changed after 1 year of the stretching program, “when individual component scores were investigated, two components of hand function (eating and gripping) were significantly improved.”
SOURCE: Journal of Rheumatology August 2006.
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