There is a cushioning in between all our joints, called cartilages. This cushion-like material is what helps in the smooth movement of the joints. Arthritis attacks the cartilage, which is why there are severe pain and limited mobility in the patient.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system attacks/cause inflammation in the tendons and cartilages at the joints. It begins at the arms most of the times before spreading to the other parts. Exercising has time and again proved to be useful for joint pains, and in these cases.
Exercising regularly does help a lot, and exercising for arthritis(1) is one of the most effective solutions to deal with Rheumatoid arthritis.
Best Hand Exercises for Arthritis
Starting with exercises that almost anyone can safely try are listed below, these are scientifically known to have positive effects on joints.
1. Form a Fist
Relax. Keep your hands and fingers straight. Now try curling your fingers down towards the palm, making a fist. It is to be noted that you don’t make the grasp too tight or exert too much force.
2. Bend your Fingers
Start by keeping your hand straight, and palm up. Try bringing each finger, one by one to the center of the palm. Then straighten out by holding it.
3. Bend your Thumb
Try bending the thumb towards the center of the palm. If you can reach the pinky finger too, is good. You can try reaching out more.
4. Form a ‘C’ or an ‘O’
Try curling your fingers and thumb halfway towards each other, thus, forming a ‘C.’ Try stretching out more to touch the fingers to the thumb; it will give you a complete ‘O.’ Straighten your hand, palm up, and keep trying again.
5. Table Bend
Place your hand on a flat platform. Rest your hand on the platform by the little finger side. Now, try curling your fingers in towards the palm and stretch out the thumb, pointing it upwards. Relax in a couple of seconds and try again.
6. One Finger Lift
Keep your hand on a flat platform, palm-side down. Now try lifting each of the fingers, one at a time. Lift and bring down to rest. Repeat.
7. Bend the Wrist
Straighten out your left hand and lift it, straight in line to your chest. With the right side, try bending the left one from the wrist, downwards. Hold it for some seconds and rest. Repeat it multiple times for both hands.
A Golden Rule to abide by for arthritis patients is that finger exercises for arthritis should not hurt.’ If one experiences pain, they must stop it and give it time before beginning to exercise again. It is advisable to consult your doctor in this case. Repeating hand exercises for arthritis even though it hurts may worsen the situation or lead to dislocation.
Benefits Of Hand Exercises
- Exercising has proven effective in both conditions of arthritis- inflammatory and osteoarthritis(2). It increases flexibility and range of motion of joints and helps reduce joint damage.
- According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, exercise helps increase blood flow to the damaged cartilage and helps it stay healthy, preventing further breakdown.
- Exercising makes the body active and catalyzes the production of synovial fluid in the joints, which further helps lessen the stiffness in joints.
- The exercises need not be intensive. Simple exercises could help keep the joint movements proper and hence avoiding more stiffening and pain.
Arthritis isn’t completely curable. However, with regular and adequate care, diet, and exercising it could prevent the disease from worsening. Actively striving for a healthy lifestyle that includes proper rest, exercising, and diet could go a long way in keeping arthritis at bay.
Moreover, staying alert regarding what’s happening to your body as it ages and keeping oneself informed is always preferable than facing adversity and then having to change.
[Read: Exercises for Rhomboid Pain]
Q1. What Are the Early Signs/ Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Some of the early signs/symptoms of RA would be:
- Pain in the wrist and finger joints and/or knuckles
- Wrist or fingers may not straighten
- Unexplained fatigue
- Body ache and weakness, which feels like sickness or flu
Q2. Are There Any Exercises I Should Avoid?
Ans. Do not try squeezing a ball; Several patients are recommended that as a hand exercise for arthritis. However, it doesn’t help RA patients as it puts more strain on the joints.
Constant joint movements without adequate relaxation, like typing on a keyboard or texting on the phone should be avoided/decreased. Also, carrying weights must be avoided as it causes severe strain on the joints.
Q3. Hot Therapy or Cold Therapy?
Ans. For an RA patient, heat should be the way to go. Merely soaking hands in warm water or relaxing with head pads on in the morning would lessen the stiffening caused overnight.