To evaluate the effectiveness of a brief supervised education, self-management, and global upper extremity exercise training program, supplementing a home exercise regimen, for people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA; the Education, Self-Management, and Upper Extremity Exercise Training in People with Rheumatoid Arthritis [EXTRA] program).
Adults with RA of ≤5 years' duration were randomized to receive either usual care or the EXTRA program comprising 4 (1-hour) group education, self-management, and global upper extremity exercise training sessions supplementing the first 2 weeks of a 12-week individualized, functional home exercise regimen in addition to usual care. Outcome measures were assessed at baseline, 12 weeks (primary end point), and 36 weeks and included the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand questionnaire (primary outcome measure), the Grip Ability Test, handgrip strength (N), the Arthritis Self-Efficacy Scale (pain, function, and symptoms subscales), and the 28-joint Disease Activity Score.
One hundred eight participants (26 men, mean ± SD age 55 ± 15 years, mean ± SD disease duration 20 ± 19 months) were randomized to receive either usual care (n = 56) or the EXTRA program (n = 52). At 12 weeks, there was a significant between-group difference in the mean change in disability (−6.8 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) −12.6, −1.0]; P = 0.022), function (−3.0 [95% CI −5.0, −0.5]; P = 0.011), nondominant handgrip strength (31.3N [95% CI 9.8, 52.8]; P = 0.009), self-efficacy (10.5 [95% CI 1.6, 19.5]; P = 0.021 for pain and 9.3 [95% CI 0.5, 18.2]; P = 0.039 for symptoms), and disease activity (−0.7 [95% CI −1.4, 0.0]; P = 0.047), all favoring the EXTRA program.
The EXTRA program improves upper extremity disability, function, handgrip strength, and self-efficacy in people with RA, with no adverse effects on disease activity.