Strengthening and stretching for rheumatoid arthritis of the hand sarah trial

This trial is closed and results were published in January 2015.

The SARAH trial aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of a tailored exercise programme for hands and wrists for people with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) in addition to usual care. The project was led by Professor Sallie Lamb and funded by the NIHR Health Technology Assessment programme.

490 patients were recruited from 17 NHS sites across the UK and were randomly allocated to either usual care (joint protection advice and education and functional splinting as necessary) or usual care plus a further five sessions of supervised strengthening and stretching exercise with a hand therapist. People taking part were followed up at 4, 8 and 12 months after being included in the trial.

The trial showed that the individually tailored, progressive exercise programme, made up of a series of strengthening and stretching exercises, improved function and quality of life for patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The programme was also shown to be cost-effective, providing a low-cost intervention that can be adopted alongside regular medication.

You can read the full report of the trial here. Additionally, clinicians can download the SARAH trial materials from our Resources page.

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