Arthritis is a medical condition that causes the cartilage (basically the cushioning between the joints) to wear away, and this causes stiffness, pain, and inflammation. It can become difficult, if not totally impossible, to successfully complete simple tasks, such as turning a doorknob, writing, typing or grabbing an eating utensil.
There are some options to treat arthritis pain, such as over-the-counter and prescription medications, and surgery. But, hand exercises have been proven to provide some relief to patients.
Overtime, arthritic hands will lose strength, and will benefit from some of the following hand exercises. Exercise will help to keep tendons and ligaments flexible, range of motion will improve, and so will the entire function of the hand. As an added bonus, specialized hand exercises for arthritis and joint pain may increase the production of synovial fluid, and this will have joints working more efficiently with less swelling, stiffness and pain.
Below are seven (7) hand exercises that can reduce the chronic pain and stiffness, associated with arthritis.
1. Make a fist.
Position your hand as if you were going to shake someone’s hand (without extending your arm). Now, slowly and deliberately create a fist with your thumb outside of your hand. Do not squeeze your hand tight. Release the fist, so that your hand is in the starting position. Do this ten times on each hand.
2. Finger Bends.
This exercise being in the same manner as the previous exercise – with your hand in a position ready to give a handshake. Now slowly, bring your thumb down toward your palm, while keeping all other fingers as straight as possible. Hold for five to ten seconds and release. Repeat with each finger on both hands.
3. Thumb Stretch.
Similar to the finger bends, but this time, your goal would be to bend your thumb toward the base of your pinky finger. Stretch it as far as comfortably possible – hold – release – repeat. Ten times.
4. The Claw.
In this exercise, the starting position of your hand should be with your fingers spread and pointing upward. Your palms should be facing away from you (like you are preparing to give/receive a “high five”). Now, curve your fingers downward until they touch, resulting in an “O” shape of your hand. Hold for ten seconds and then slowly release. This exercise should be performed several times a day, and is most effective, when your hands begin to feel stiff and/or sore.
5. Table Bends.
Rest the pinky side of your hand on a table, with your thumb pointing toward the ceiling. While keeping your thumb stable, slowly try to bend your other fingers toward your wrist. Repeat ten times with both hands. The table provides stability for the hand, which is needed for this exercise.
6. Finger Lifts.
Start with your palm on a flat surface and your fingers should be spread apart. Slowly raise one finger as high as possible, while all other fingers remain flat on the table. Hold and lower that finger. Repeat for each finger on both hands.
7. Wrist Stretch.
Your wrist will also be affected by arthritic pain, and it should be stretched on a regular basis to minimize pain. With your palms facing downward, hold your right arm out. Using your left hand, gently and slowly press down on your right hand, until you feel a comfortable stretch in your wrist and arms. Hold this position for three to five seconds. Repeat this stretch sequence ten times on each arm.
In addition to the above effective hand exercises, that are excellent in keeping your fingers flexible and relieving stiffness in your hands, below are some addition treatments that you can do at home, to aid in relieving chronic pain associated with arthritis.
1. Ice is a known reliever for swelling. To avoid potential frostbite, it is important that you use cloth as a barrier, between the ice and your skin.
2. Warm Epsom salt baths are a soothing way to relieve minor pains. Epsom salt is rich in magnesium, and this is known to reduce nerve pain and built-up bone mineralization.
3. Ginger and honey have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and these make a wonderful warm beverage. If using ginger, boil a small piece of fresh ginger in a cup of water for at least ten minutes, strain and drink (do this several times a day). For a cinnamon and honey tea, combine a tablespoon of honey with just a half of teaspoon of cinnamon to your regular tea, and enjoy first thing in the morning.
4. A tablespoon of turmeric can be added to a cup of warm milk, or boil a tablespoon of turmeric in a quart of water for ten minutes, and enjoy later as a cool beverage.