Do you have pain and stiffness in your hands? Is it hard 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? This article will discuss the best exercises you can practice at home for hand arthritis.
Recently, I have seen a patient in my office complaining about pain in her hands. She described that in the mornings, she would have 5-10 minutes of stiffness that would go away over time and with movement. Sometimes, she struggles with writing or grabbing her cup of coffee. The pain was worse if she 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, 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 hand osteoarthritis?
Initially, rheumatologists believed that only mechanical factors and overuse contribute to this process. More recently, researchers showed that some pro-inflammatory factors 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 hand arthritis 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 in the hands and 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 hand’s muscle gets weaker, and you may start dropping things quickly.
What are the best exercises for hand arthritis?
Maintaining good strength and mobility of your hands is essential as your hands are an essential part of your body. In the video attached below, Dr. Melissa Koehl will teach you three hand exercises you can perform at home. They are effortless, and you need to start practicing them regularly.
Dr. Koehl is a 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 are concerned about Ankylosing Spondylitis, you can consult Rheumatologist OnCall, a telemedicine practice that can evaluate from the comfort of your home. Rheumatologist OnCall broadens 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 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