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Arthritis Hand Exercises

We use our hands for almost everything we do. When a person does not have full functions of their hands it can be a crippling feeling. This is how nearly 40 million people in the United States are affected by arthritis feel. There are many forms of arthritis, but the two most common ones are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease of the cartilage and bone. Rheumatoid arthritis is inflammation of the lining of the joints. Medication can be used to help with the pain temporarily, but there is no cure. People with arthritis need to avoid certain activities that require tight grips and pressure on the hands or fingers.

There are exercises that you can perform to help bring strength back to your hands and reduce pain. These should be performed every day. If there is pain, then they should be stopped immediately. Like with all exercises, you need to stretch first. But since some of the exercises are stretches, applying something warm to your hands, like a warm towel or water, will prepare the joints and muscles in your hands for exercise and will prevent further injury. Each exercise should be performed 3-5 times daily.

Neutral Position: Hold your hand upright with your wrist, finger, and thumb upward.

Neutral Position

Curls: Starting from the “neutral” position and keeping your knuckles and wrist straight. Bend then straighten the end and middle joints of your fingers.


Fist: Make a fist with your hand, making sure each joint is bending as much as possible. This exercise will help strengthen your fingers.


Stretch: Straighten all your fingers as much as possible.


Spread: Similar to the “stretch.” Rest your hand on a table, or a flat surface, and straighten all your fingers and then bring them back together.

Thumb Slide: Holding your hand out, like you’re about to give someone a handshake, lift your thumb up so it’s pointing at the ceiling and then lower it so it’s pointing at the floor.

Thumb Slide

Thumb Roll: Start your hand in the “neutral” position, stretch out your thumb and pinky finger out. Then move your thumb and pinky over your palm and touch the tips of your fingers, without moving your three middle fingers.

Thumb Roll

Even though there is no cure for arthritis performing these exercises regularly will you bring strength and mobility to your hands. They can also help prevent arthritis from spreading or becoming worse.






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