Flexible Hands May Be Less Prone to Arthritis
People with unusually flexible fingers may be able to dodge
hand arthritis, a study suggests.
Researchers found that among 1,043 adults with a family history
of hand arthritis, the roughly 4% with extremely flexible, or "hypermobile,” joints
were two thirds less likely than less-flexible men and women
to have osteoarthritis in the middle joint of the finger.
The findings are somewhat unexpected because hypermobility has
been suspected of promoting osteoarthritis; extreme range of
motion in a joint may place it under abnormal patterns of stress
and possibly raise the odds of injury—two factors that
can predispose to arthritis. But in this study, flexibility appeared
protective against hand arthritis, even though participants were
at elevated risk for the disorder owing to family history.
Researchers used standard tests to measure flexibility, including
two that looked at how far backward the little finger and thumb
could bend. An analysis of a subgroup of participants showed
that all with hypermobility had highly flexible fingers. According
to the researchers, hypermobility may alter the stress that gripping
and pinching motions place on the hand joints.
Arthritis & Rheumatism
Volume 50, page 2178