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Best Exercises for Hands Arthritis

Do you have pain and stiffness in your hands? Is it hard for you to grab a cup of coffee or use a pen to write? What can you do to improve the pain and function of your hands? In this article, we will discuss about the best exercises that you can practice at home for hands arthritis. 

Patient Story

Recently, I have seen a patient in my office who was complaining about pain in her hands. She described that in the mornings she will have 5-10 minutes of stiffness that will go away over time and with movement. Sometimes, she will have difficulties with writing or grabbing her cup of coffee. The pain was worse if used her hands but was relieved by rest. I examined her hands and I diagnosed the patient with osteoarthritis.

What Is Osteoarthritis? 

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, also known as “wear and tear” arthritis. It can involve almost all the joints, including the spine, or knees, but hands are commonly affected. Women develop osteoarthritis of the hands more often than men.

What Is Causing Osteoarthritis of the Hands?

Initially, rheumatologists believed that only mechanical factors and overuse contribute to this process. More recently, researchers showed that some pro-inflammatory factors appear to drive the production of some proteolytic enzymes responsible for joint tissue destruction. Most likely it is a combination of the “wear and tear” process and a “low degree of inflammation”. Osteoarthritis of the hands can also be secondary to an inflammatory process like rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis.

How Does It Manifest?

Pain is the most common manifestation. Pain can be worsened by movement and relieved by rest. There is no redness, and the joints are not warm to the touch. Some patients developed deformities if the hands and also some nodules over the Distal and interphalangeal joints. We call these “Heberden” or “Bouchard” nodules. These nodules can be painful. Cold weather or overuse can cause more pain in the hands. In time, the mobility of the hands is restricted, the hands muscle gets weaker and you may start dropping things easily.

What are the Best Exercises that You Can Do at Home?

Maintaining good strength and mobility of your hands is essential as your hands are a very important part of your body. In the video attached below, Dr. Melissa Koehl  will teach you three hand exercises that you can perform at home. They are very easy and you just need to start practicing them regularly.

Dr. Koehl is Physical Therapist, Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist, Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist, and Pilates Instructor. She has 20 years of experience treating patients with complex orthopedic issues including arthritis, chronic pain, fibromyalgia and more.


We hope this video answers many of your questions.  

If you have developed back pain and you are concerned for Ankylosing Spondylitis, you can consult Rheumatologist OnCall, a telemedicine practice that can evaluate from the comfort of your home. Rheumatologist OnCall broadens the access to rheumatology, breaking geographical barriers and being able to help patients in multiple states in the United States. Dr. Diana Girnita integrates the most advanced therapies in rheumatology with a holistic approach that will include lifestyle interventions. Nutrition, stress management, mindfulness, and exercise are essential in achieving a lower disease activity and thriving with arthritis. You can contact us if you want a consultation or even a second opinion. We are happy to help you!

Contributors to this article:

Diana Girnita MD, PhD and Melissa Koehl, PT


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