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8 Hand Exercises to Ease Arthritis Pain

Arthritis By Ariba Khaliq , Onlymyhealth editorial team / Feb 21, 2014
8 Hand Exercises to Ease Arthritis Pain

Exercising your hands can help reduce arthritis pain and enable you to perform more easily the various tasks of daily living.

Imagine a day when you will find it difficult to brush your teeth, button your shirt, open a jar, cook, clean, or type, and just about anything else. Scary? Well, it can be, if arthritis attacks your hands and finger joints! And it does just that to a significant population in the world.

We need our hands to do anything and everything. If you have arthritis and it affects your hands, performing these and other basic tasks can be challenging. Fortunately, "exercising" your hands can help reduce the pain, improve your range of motion, and, ultimately, enable you to perform more easily the various tasks of daily living.

Exercise can help you improve your health and fitness without hurting your joints. Along with your current treatment program, exercise can:

  • Strengthen the muscles around your joints,
  • Help you maintain bone strength,
  • Give you more strength and energy to get through the day,
  • Make it easier to get a good night's sleep,
  • Help you control your weight and
  • Make you feel better about yourself and improve your sense of well-being.


Making a Fist

arthritis exercise

  • This exercise can be done anywhere and at any time when your hand feels stiff.
  • Hold your left hand up straight.
  • Slowly bend your hand into a fist.
  • Place your thumb on the outside of your hand while you make a fist.
  • You should be gentle and careful about not squeezing your hand.
  • Open the hand back until your fingers are straight again.
  • Repeat 10 times with each hand.

Finger Bends


  • Start by holding your hand upright and pointing your wrist, fingers, and thumb upward.
  • Bend the end and middle joints of your fingers.
  • You must keep your knuckles straight.
  • Moving slowly and smoothly, return your hand to the starting position.
  • This is already a big effort for people with arthritis.
  • If you can, perform multiple repetitions of this exercise on each hand.

Thumb Bend

arthritis hand exercises

  • First, hold your left hand outstretched.
  • Then, bend your thumb inward toward your palm.
  • Try to stretch your thumb toward the base of your pinkie finger.
  • If you can’t reach your pinkie, don’t worry. Just stretch your thumb as far as you can.
  • Return to original position. Repeat 10 times. Then do the exercise with your right hand.


Making an O

arthritis exercise

  • Start with holding your hand and fingers straight and close together.
  • Form an O shape by touching your thumb to each fingertip.
  • Moving slowly and smoothly, touch your index finger to your thumb.
  • Then follow with your middle, ring and small fingers.
  • Repeat this exercise multiple times with each hand.

Table Bend

hand exercise arthritis

  • Rest your hand on a flat surface, such as a tabletop, with your palm facing down.
  • Move your thumb away from your hand.
  • Beginning with your index finger, move it up and toward your thumb.
  • Follow with moving your middle, ring and small fingers one at a time up and toward your thumb.
  • Repeat this exercise multiple times with each hand.


Finger Lift

arthritis treatment

  • Place your left hand flat on a table, palm down.
  • Starting with your thumb, lift each finger slowly off the table—one at a time.
  • Hold each finger for a second or two, and then lower it.
  • Do the same exercise with every finger of the left hand.
  • After you’re done with the left hand, repeat the entire sequence on the right hand.


Fan and Fist


  • Keep your hands in the neutral position and all of your knuckles straight.
  • Slowly and gently spread your fingers as far apart as you can, like a fan opening up.
  • From this position, make a fist. Hold each position for five seconds.
  • Repeat on both hands twice a day.

    Wrist Stretch

    arthritis exercise

  • Wrists also get sore and stiff from arthritis.
  • To exercise your wrist, hold your right arm out with the palm facing down.
  • With your left hand, gently press down on the right hand until you feel a stretch in your wrist and arm.
  • Hold the position for a few seconds.
  • Repeat 10 times. Then, do the entire sequence with the left hand.



    If you have arthritis, exercise can help keep your joints mobile and your muscles strong. Swimming and other water-based exercise are especially good because they’re easy on the joints. So is tai chi, a low-impact, slow-motion exercise with origins in Chinese martial arts.



    Read more articles on Arthritis.





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