Skip to content

IRD IA – Improves hand function

Evidence summary (Added 2022)

In patients with rheumatoid arthritis, regular home-based hand exercises can have moderate benefit on hand function in the medium-to long term (1). Exercises should focus on range of movement, stretching, strength and functional skills. Physical activity can also lead to less pain and fatigue in inflammatory arthritis (2). Functional exercises may also help to reduce morning stiffness in patients with RA (3).

Quality of evidence
Grade B – Moderate quality evidence in RA on the basis of a comprehensive systematic review.

Strength of recommendation

Grade 1 – Strong recommendation in RA on the basis of a comprehensive systematic review.

Regular home-based exercises can improve hand function in patients with Rheumatoid arthritis and should be recommended in these patients. Generally, activity and exercise selection should be based on individual preference.


  1. Williams MA, Srikesavan C, Heine PJ, Bruce J, Brosseau L, Hoxey-Thomas N, Lamb SE. Exercise for rheumatoid arthritis of the hand. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Jul 31;7(7):CD003832. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003832.pub3. PMID: 30063798; PMCID: PMC6513509.
  2. Björk M, Dragioti E, Alexandersson H, Esbensen BA, Boström C, Friden C, Hjalmarsson S, Hörnberg K, Kjeken I, Regardt M, Sundelin G. Inflammatory Arthritis and the Effect of Physical Activity on Quality of Life and Self‐reported Function: A Systematic Review and Meta‐analysis–The ENHANCE Study. Arthritis care & research. 2021 Oct 11.
  3. Wang L, Gao C, Zhu D, Chen LH. [Effect of functional exercises on patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a meta-analysis]. Beijing Da Xue Xue Bao Yi Xue
    Ban. 2018 Dec 18;50(6):991-997. Chinese. PMID: 30562770