Osteoarthritis Chronic Hand Pain May Be Improved With Vibrating Gloves

hand with arthritis
hand with arthritis
Vibrating gloves may help reduce hand pain in women with hand osteoarthritis

Vibrating gloves may help reduce hand pain in women with hand osteoarthritis (OA). The findings were presented at the American Pain Society’s 36th Annual Scientific Meeting held May 17-20, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.1

To study whether gloves that massage the hands via mild compression and light vibration had lasting benefit with periodic use, the researchers randomly assigned 60 women with hand OA pain to either wear the gloves for 20 minutes a day or to be monitored without the gloves, for a period of 3 months.

All participants were assessed at baseline via questionnaires, subjected to a brief quantitative sensory test (QST), and indicated their pain level on a daily basis using a smartphone app. The app reminded participants to complete daily assessments of their pain, sleep, activity interference, mood, and any perceived change. The participants also completed written questionnaires at 6 weeks and 3 months.

The researchers had potential participants try on the gloves to assess whether they would agree to wear them during the 3-month trial; 3 participants (<5%) did not want to participate after trying on the gloves.

The average age of participants was 62.7±7.7. Pain intensity averaged 4.1±1.9 on a scale of 0 to 10, and participants reported having pain for an average of 11.5±9.6 years. Most of the participants were right-handed (88.5%), and 50.0% reported primarily right hand pain.

Over time, the participants wore the gloves less often — an average of 5.2 days a week.

Compared with the control group, patients in the experimental group had reduced pain intensity (P <.05). There were no differences in mood or sleep. Individuals with greater sensitivity on the QST showed most benefit from wearing the gloves (P <.05).

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  1. Jamison R, Mei A, Ross R, Lee C. Efficacy of vibrating gloves for chronic hand pain due to osteoarthritis. Presented at: the American Pain Society 36th Annual Scientific Meeting, May 17-20, 2017, Pittsburgh, PA.