Just like a prayer; a simple test for joint mobility

by Elizabeth Snouffer on 02/25/2011

If you have t1 or t2 diabetes, have you ever tried putting your hands together as if you are praying?  This may not be something that you find yourself doing a whole lot, if ever.  It’s a loopy question for a patient who suffers from diabetes.  Let’s face it, people with diabetes seem to be praying for all kinds of things everyday, particularly while we wait for our blood sugar meters to give us results; some of us (parents included) might either pray silently or mutter:

“Please, please, be a good number.”

I am rarely surprised by my own result; yet I do find myself saying a defiant “YES!” when the outcome is good.  Even so, I have never used praying hands (maybe I should).

Diabetes patients, even the very youngest sufferers, often have a second sense for diabetes trouble, and we sometimes know more than we are willing to admit, but there are always more surprises.  Recently, I saw an article about praying hands, diabetes, and how one simple test can tell us a lot about the state of our health.  The author mentions that limited joint mobility (LJM) is hard to detect because it is also not painful.  Silent symptoms are another terrible part of the diabetes condition.

Praying hands test - how is your flexibility?

Hands usually give the first sign of a mobility problem which is why the following simple test can detect limitations:

Tightly and evenly press your palms together with the elbows pointing out. If the finger joints are bent, causing tiny to large gaps between the hands, this is limited joint mobility. If the test is negative, you should not be able to pass a sheet of paper between any sections of the palms.
(23 Feb 2011: Those with diabetes should monitor joint mobility in hands )

I suffered from another problem called Dupuytren contracture (now fully recovered, somewhat miraculously) and during this period in 2002, the rheumatologist I was referred to had me do the exact same test in the photo above.  According to the article, a positive prayer sign may be indicative of other problems such as “microvascular complications in the eyes and kidneys.”   Whenever I saw that same European rheumatologist over a six year period, he had me do the test and fortunately for me, it was always negative.  The article stresses that the risk of a positive prayer sign + diabetes (up to one in four non-diabetics have limited hand  flexibility – this group may also seek care as they may be among the undiagnosed) increases with age, poor HbA1cs and smoking.

Take two seconds to take the test, and see your doctor if you think the result is positive.   Stay well.

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