Exercises for Arthritis in the Hands, Fingers

Arthritis in the hands and fingers can cause severe inflammation and be extremely painful, making daily activities difficult.

Woman teaches arthritis hand exercises

While doctors can help patients by offering treatments ranging from medications to surgical procedures, patients themselves can also help relieve this pain by performing certain exercises.

Hand exercises can help with strength, flexibility and range of motion in the joints, as well as the supportive ligaments and tendons of the hands and fingers. This can also help to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

Before beginning, it’s important to know that it is normal to experience some mild aching after exercising. However, if discomfort lasts for more than a few hours, you should perform fewer repetitions next time. If the exercises make your symptoms worse, stop doing them and go see your doctor.

5 Daily Hand Exercises for Arthritis

Although these exercises are quite simple, they can make a noticeable difference in joint pain and inflammation. However, if you only do them occasionally, you may not notice an effect. Therefore, we recommend you make hand exercises a habit by doing them at the same time each day, as well as in the same order.

  1. Finger Lifts: Rest the palm of your hand on a flat surface, spreading your fingers apart. One by one, slowly lift each finger off the surface, hold it briefly, then lower it.
  2. Slow Bends: Use slow and gentle movements, bend one finger at a time, then slowly straighten it out again. Repeat with all fingers.
  3. Form an “O”: With your hand stretched out and fingers straight, slowly curve the tips of your fingers inward until they touch and form an “O” shape. Then straighten your fingers again. Repeat on each hand several times daily.
  4. Finger Curls: Turn your palm so it is facing you. Hold your hand in a loose fist, then slowly uncurl your fingers and extend them. Hold for a few seconds before curling them back into a loose fist. Repeat on each hand several times daily.
  5. Show the Love: End your hand exercise session by forming a heart shape with your thumbs and fingers several times. With your palms facing each other, bend the fingers inward, so the tips touch each other. Then, join the tips of the thumbs below, forming a heart shape. Hold for several seconds. Then release the pose and begin again.

The wrist is directly connected to the hands: that means exercising the wrist can also help reduce hand pain. Once you have mastered the hand exercises described above, trying adding these wrist exercises into your daily routine:

  1. Fist-Wrist Bends: Form a loose fist, then lower your hand onto a table. Next, gently bend the fist inward so it faces you. Hold for several seconds, then return to the original position.
  2. The Side-to-Side: Place your palm on a table, with wrist and hand straight. Next, turn your wrist, so your fingers twist away from you as far as you can, while remaining comfortable. Hold for several seconds, then turn your wrist back to the original position. Repeat, but this time turn your wrist inward, so your fingers face the other direction. Do this exercise several times each day, using both hands.
  3. Hand Turn: Rest the palm of your hand on a flat surface. Hold the wrist and hand straight, then lift all fingers up at once, flexing the wrist. Hold for several seconds then return to the starting position.

In addition to these exercises, you may benefit from working with a hand therapy ball. These balls are available in different thicknesses and can help you build hand strength and flexibility.