Impairments in Grip and Pinch Force Accuracy and Steadiness in People With Osteoarthritis of the Hand: A Case-Control Comparison

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Journal Article
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Elsevier BV

Background Symptomatic hand osteoarthritis (OA) is severely disabling condition. Limited evidence has focused on force control measures in this population.

Objectives It was the aim of the present study to determine whether force matching accuracy and steadiness are impaired in people with hand OA. In addition, the relationship between force control measures (accuracy and steadiness) and measures of hand function and pain in people with symptomatic hand OA was explored.

Design Case-control study.

Method Sixty-two participants with symptomatic hand OA and 26 healthy pain-free controls undertook an isometric grip and pinch force matching task at 50 % of their maximum voluntary contraction. Average pain hand pain was recorded. In addition, the Disability of the Arm Shoulder and Hand Questionnaire (DASH), and the Functional Index of Hand Osteoarthritis were collected.

Results Grip force-matching accuracy and steadiness were significantly impaired in the hand OA group compared to controls (P < 0.05). Pinch force-matching error was greater in people with hand OA (P < 0.05), however, pinch force steadiness was not different between groups. There was a learning effect in people with hand OA, with resolution of force matching impairments with task repetition. A small positive correlation was identified between grip force control and the DASH. No association was found between other measures of force control and self-reported measures of function or pain.

Conclusions People with hand OA presented with greater impairments in measures of submaximal force control. These were correlated with self-reported hand function but not pain. Future studies may wish to examine whether objective measures of functional performance are related to force-matching error and steadiness.

Symptomatic hand osteoarthritis; Force steadiness; Force matching; Root mean square; RMS; Hand function
Musculoskeletal Science and Practice. Volume 55, October 2021, 102432.
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© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (