Dr. Shiel's Patented Handshake for Arthritis Patients

I regularly receive praise from my new patients for using a gentle handshake with my greeting. It's no great accomplishment really. It comes with years of experience and the training of clinical practice. It's an example of why I am called an arthritis expert, a rheumatologist.

After I give my patient a gentle handshake, and they in turn compliment me for my tenderness (actually restraint), I next let them in on a little known social trick that they always appreciate. I explain to them the following about Dr. Shiel's Patented Handshake for Arthritis Sufferers:

The "traditional" handshake is frequently approached as a macho maneuver rather than a mutual reception between the greeters. It is given by one person extending his or her hand in a vertical position toward the other person (read opponent), whereupon the other person responds similarly. (In a vertical hand position, the thumb points up.) Both persons' hands grasp in this vertical position and grip together. Typically, the grip is firm. It has been said that this vigorous style of handshake can sometimes instill confidence, establish rapport, and promote interpersonal attention.


Normal Handshake

Normal Handshake Normal Handshake Normal Handshake

The problem is that this vertical hand position allows for the maximal force of grip to be exerted. Furthermore, for someone who suffers from arthritis of the hands, this manner of grasping results merely in discomfort rather than a pleasant greeting. (This is especially true when the person with arthritis encounters politicians and long lost friends!) In a vertical grasp, the tender "knuckles" that are frequently inflamed and swollen by arthritis are smashed together. Moreover, the shaking maneuver causes a forceful twisting of these joints during the repetitive upward and downward motion of the handshake. All of this inevitably causes intense local pain in the hand.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/1/2014