Arthritis is a musculoskeletal condition that comes in many forms and with it brings many symptoms, these symptoms can include pain, inflammation, swelling and stiffness around the joints. As the joints around the body become stiff, painful and swollen it can make daily tasks become quite a challenge. The hands in particular can become very painful, stiff and inflexible which in turn can cause reduced strength due to under use. It's important for people with Arthritis to keep there hands both flexible and strong as the hands are used everyday for a myriad of tasks such as holding, opening, closing, lifting, pushing, pulling - the list goes on. The following exercises can be performed to help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with Arthritis in the hands and help to improve both strength and flexibility in the joints around the hand and fingers.
1. Place the palm of your hand on a tissue or tea towel and spread your fingers apart, then bring the fingers together whilst pressing down and scrunching up the tissue between your fingers. Hold these positions for around 30 to 60 seconds and repeat 5 times.
This will help to strengthen the muscles in the hand and fingers and increase range of movement around the joints of the fingers.
2. Start this exercise by holding your hand in front of you with the palm facing you. Next, move the thumb away from your other fingers as much as possible and then bend the thumb across the palm of your hand until it touches or comes as close as possible to the bottom of your little finger. Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat 5 times.
This exercise will help to increase range of movement in the thumbs.
3. Place your hand on a flat surface and wrap an elastic band around the bottom of your finger joints. Then begin to slowly extend your thumb away from your other fingers as far as possible. Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat 10 times. Use a thicker band to make the exercise more challenging.
This exercise will help to strengthen the muscles in the thumbs.
4. Start the next exercise by simply clenching your fist and holding for 30 seconds then open your hand spread your fingers out as wide as possible and hold for a further 30 seconds. Repeat the exercise 5 times.
This exercise will help to strengthen and increase range of movement in the hands and fingers.
5. Start the exercise by placing your hand onto a flat surface, palm down. Then start to slowly lift each finger up then down one at a time. Hold each finger up for a few seconds, repeat the exercise 10 times.
This exercise will help to increase flexibility and range of movement in the fingers.
6. For the next exercise you will need a ball which you are able to squeeze in the palm of your hand. Begin by squeezing the ball as hard as possible in your hand and holding this position for around 5 to 10 seconds then release and relax the hand. Repeat the exercise 5 times.
This exercise will help to increase your grip strength in the hand.
7. Begin the last exercise by holding your hand as though you were going to shake someones hand. Then slowly bring thumb towards your other fingers and begin to squeeze against your index and middle finger in a pinching movement. Hold this pinch for around 10 seconds then relax the hand and fingers. Repeat the exercise 10 times.
This exercise will help to increase strength in the finger and thumb muscles.
The above exercises can be performed on a daily basis but I would advise to not push through any severe pain or flare ups. Let your body rest until the worst of the pain subsides then continue with your exercises slowly and gently.