The hand contains 27 different bones. While that may seem like a small number, arthritic hand pain can at times feel like every bone is on fire. Arthritis in the hands may stem from the normal wear and tear of osteoarthritis or from the autoimmune disorder known as rheumatoid arthritis. No matter the kind of arthritis, gentle exercises can help to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Here are how a few simple exercises can provide much-needed relief for arthritic hands.
Simply squeeze a small, flexible ball with each hand, alternating after a few repetitions. Really focus on the movement of each finger by trying to over-articulate the motions. Try deep squeezing followed by short bursts of light squeezing. While doing so, periodically rotate your wrists, elbows and shoulders to work other joints in the process. Keep the ball with you where ever you go – while watching TV, at work, while riding in the car, or at the movies. Squeezing one is a terrific way to strengthen the hands and counter the effects of arthritis. If you don’t have a proper stress ball provided by your physical therapist or purchased from a sporting goods store, don’t worry. You can easily improvise by using a tennis ball, dog toy or ball of yarn.
Don’t have a ball? That’s fine. Use your hands! Finger exercises don’t require any equipment and can be improvised as you become more nimble. Start by alternately touching your thumb to each finger and back, repeating this over and over. Alternately straightening and bending each finger, try lifting each one off a table one at a time, or making an “O” and flexing your fist. You may need to start slow will speed up with time.
Match up fingers on both hands (thumb to thumb, index to index, etc.) creating a mirror image of each other. Then begin to press the fingers against each other (“like a spider doing push-ups on a mirror”). Rotate your wrists while increasing pressure.
After sets of these exercises, massage your fingers and hands with a cream or balm, or have someone do it for you. A good massage will increase blood flow, help to maintain range of motion and reduce stiffness. For a soothing treat, soak your hands in a tub of warm water filled with Epsom salts to relax muscles and loosen stiff joints before massaging the hands.
No one should have to endure the excruciating pain and discomfort of arthritis. The team at Balcones Pain Consultants have decades of combined experience dealing with all matters of pain in the hands and everywhere else on the body. Call them at (512) 834-4141 to schedule an appointment or use their web portal here.