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Hand Exercises for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Hand Exercises for Rheumatoid Arthritis

hand exercises for rheumatoid arthritis
Hand exercises for rheumatoid arthritis

Hand joints are the most frequently affected joints in Rheumatoid arthritis. Apart from anti-inflammatory medicines and biological DMARDs, physiotherapy plays an important role in relieving pain and preserving hand functions. Hand exercises for rheumatoid arthritis are vital as hand joints are the most frequently used.

Rheumatoid arthritis sufferers frequently lament their diminished hand and finger strength and flexibility.

Fortunately, performing a few quick hand exercises that do not require a lot of time or specific equipment can be extremely helpful for reducing pain and stiffness as well as enhancing joint function.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is what doctors refer to as an autoimmune disorder. The process starts when your immune system, which is designed to protect you, breaks down and begins attacking the tissues in your own body.

This causes the lining of your joints to swell (the synovium). As a result, your joints could swell up, hurt, get red, and get hot.

Rheumatoid arthritis affects all of the body’s paired joints, including the hands, wrists, and knees. Because of its symmetry, it may be identified as other kinds of arthritis.

Over time, RA may affect several bodily organs and systems, including the blood vessels, skin, eyes, heart, both lungs, and more.

To preserve hand movement and proper function of the hands, hand exercises are very important. A few of the easiest to perform are mentioned here.

Hand exercises for Rheumatoid Arthritis 

Below listed are the effective and easy-to-perform hand exercises for rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Fingertip Touches

This is a beginner exercise that can be used when you start therapy to improve your hand movements. As easy as it can get, you must engage in it unless you feel pain in your joints.

Follow the steps given below to properly perform this exercise.

  1. In a relaxed state, hold your hands up
  2. Keep your elbows bent
  3. In an outward direction, face your palms
  4. Initiate the movement with your tiny finger and slowly bring it to touch the tip of your thumb
  5. After that, open your hand again
  6. In the same manner, perform this exercise with the rest of your fingers
  7. Repeat this movement as many times as it is possible for you
hand exercises for rheumatoid arthritis finger touches
Fingertip Touches
  • Thumb Crosses

This is yet another exercise that focuses on the joints in your hands, particularly the thumb joints. To perform this exercise, follow the steps below:

  1. In a relaxed state, hold your hands up
  2. Keep your elbows bent
  3. In an outward direction, face your palms
  4. Keep bending your thumb inwards till it touches your palm right below your little finger
  5. Bring your thumb back to its original position
  6. Do as many repetitions as possible for you without hurting yourself
thumb cross exercises for rheumatoid arthritis
Thumb crosses: hand exercises for rheumatoid arthritis
  • Finger Lifts

Focusing on the joints in your fingers is an important point when trying to improve your mobility. This exercise is another one that will help with said purpose.

The following steps must be properly performed:

  1. You will need a flat surface for this
  2. Put your hand on that flat surface
  3. Keep your palm facing down and spread all of your fingers
  4. Gradually lift your thumb while all the other fingers are flat against the surface
  5. Keep your thumb lifted for five seconds and then bring it to its original position
  6. You must repeat this movement with the rest of your fingers
  7. Once you are done with one hand, repeat the exercise with the other
  8. Do as many repetitions as possible for you without hurting yourself
  • Finger Curls

Quite easily performed and it does not require any other extra material like all of the other exercises.

Keep following the steps below:

  1. Stretch your palm in an outward direction
  2. Extend your fingers as much as possible for you
  3. Gradually bring your fingers downwards in the direction of your palm until they touch your palm
  4. Cross your thumb over your fingers and make a loose fist
  5. Now gradually open your hand again & bring it to its starting position
  6. Do as many repetitions as possible for you without hurting yourself
  7. Keep switching hands
  • Finger Walking

To improve mobility, this exercise will make your fingers walk. It might sound funny but it can be pretty helpful.

This is how you do it:

  1. You will need a flat surface for this exercise as well
  2. Keep your palms facing the flat surface but keep your hands levitated
  3. Bring the tips of your fingers down to the surface and move them back and forth
  4. This movement will mimic that of your legs
  5. Repeat it with all of your fingers and both hands
  6.  Continue performing for as long as it comfortable for you
Hand exercises for rheumatoid arthritis
Hand exercises for rheumatoid arthritis
  • Making a ‘C

This exercise will bend your joints a little more.

Follow these easy steps:

  1. Initially, you will have to keep your fingers and thumbs straight
  2. You will also have to keep your hands straight
  3. Gently, fold your fingers to make a ‘C’
  4. This will mimic if you are holding a bottle or a can
  5. Gradually open your hands back again
  6. Repeat the exercise as many times as possible
  • Tug of War

Fortunately, we are not talking about the actual tug of war, rather, it is a simple exercise that requires some material like an envelope or any other piece of paper.

This is how you do it:

  1. Grab one end of an envelope or a piece of cloth with the tips of your thumb and index finger
  2. Grab the other end of the envelope or that piece of cloth with your other hand
  3. Now pull both of your hands in opposite directions
  4. Repeat this exercise with your thumb and the rest of your fingers
  • Finger Spreads

For this exercise do the steps given below:

  1. You will need a flat surface like a wall or a table
  2. Keep your hands on that surface with your palm facing down
  3. Extend your thumb in an outward direction
  4. Starting with your index finger, extend it in the same direction as your thumb
  5. Extend your little finger in the opposite direction from your thumb
  6. This exercise will spread all of your fingers
  7. Hold this position for as long as possible
  8. Switch hands
  9. Discontinue if you feel a painful strain in your hands
  • Stress Balls

This exercise will be better performed if your mobility has increased since the start. If putting a little pressure on your joints does not hurt you then you must try this simple exercise.

  1. You will need a stress ball for it or you can choose to use some clay or a piece of cloth folded into a ball shape.
  2. Grab whatever is available in your hand and close your fist.
  3. Try to tighten your fist gradually
  4.  disclaimer: Discontinue if this exercise hurts you.
Hand Squeezing Stress Ball exercise for rheumatoid arthritis
Hand Squeezing Stress Ball

TIPS YOU MAY NEED:

These things are important to know if you are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis:

  • It is essential for the overall health of your joints that you do not exceed your limit
  • If any movement starts hurting or causes straining you must discontinue it immediately
  • You can perform the above exercise once or twice every day
  • You can dip your hand in warm water to ease the motions
  • You must always consult your doctor if you intend to increase the repetitions of these exercises or their intensity as your doctor will advise you if it is in your favor or not

What do you think?

Written by Ahmed Farhan

I am an Internist practicing medicine for the last fifteen years. Over the years, I have learned that medicine is not about prescribing pills. True medical practice is helping people.
I do prescribe pills as well but the best results I get are when I motivate people to overcome their problems with little changes in their lifestyles.
Since most of my patients are obese and have diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol levels, I am writing at dibesity.com when free.
Dibesity, I know the correct word is diabesity. Ignore this! Be with us.
Also, you can contact me directly at dibesity.com@gmail.com

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