Background: Peripheral muscle dysfunction is one of the major comorbidities seen in
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Focusing more on upper extremity, unsupported elevation of
arms results in a change in the recruitment pattern of the respiratory muscles. Over the years, many
tests were developed to assess the upper limb capacity and include them in various rehabilitation
Objective: To review the evidence on mechanism, tests, and rehabilitation protocol for the upper
limb extremity muscle-dysfunction occurring in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Methods: PubMed and Google scholar databases were searched. Based on the inclusion criteria’s:-
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases patients, any Randomized Controlled or clinical trials,
systematic reviews, explaining upper limb extremity muscle dysfunction, various tests to assess
upper limb functional capacity and different ways of upper limb extremity training, a total of 15
articles were retrieved.
Results: The mechanism of upper extremity muscle dysfunction is now well understood. Various
tests were designed in order to assess arm strength, arm endurance and functional capacity. All the
studies which included upper limb extremity training as a part of the rehabilitation program, showed
beneficial results in terms of reduction of dyspnoea and arm fatigue, as well as improving the activity
Conclusion: This review concluded that the alteration in the upper limb extremity muscles is an
inevitable consequence of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, which can be confirmed by
various upper extremity tests, with patients responding positively to the upper limb training
incorporated during pulmonary rehabilitation protocols.