The right exercises for arthritic hands can help people over 50 decrease pain and maintain grip strength in only a few minutes a week.
Arthritis is a disease process that wears away the articular cartilage in a joint. Cartilage is the cushioning material between bones. This wearing away can cause swelling and irritation of the synovial lining, which produces the synovial fluid that helps protect and lubricate the joint.
When arthritis affects the joints of your hands or fingers, it can cause pain, stiffness, weakness, and joint deformity. (Healthline.com)
But there are some simple exercises you can do with basic equipment in the gym or at home to fight back against debilitating hand and wrist arthritis.
What is the best exercise for arthritis in the hands?
I recently got an email from a subscriber named Rob.
In response to my question “What would help you the most in a short workout video?”, Rob replied:
“I could use some suggestions on exercises for my joints affected by arthritis. Specifically knee and wrist/hand joints.”
(I covered the best exercise for arthritic knees in a previous video – you can check it out here.)
In this video I share 2 great exercises for arthritic hands and wrists that men or women over 50 can do at the gym and also at home, even if you only have a small space or a limited budget.
The first one I’m going to show you works the muscles in the fingers, hands and wrists all at once.
The second exercise is done isometrically, meaning you just hold the weight for time without any movement. This one is a good option if wrist movement is too painful for you at this time to do the first exercise.
I have the clients in my Platinum Coaching Program and those using my Stay Strong Forever Program who need grip strengthening perform 1 of these exercises at the end of each workout, alternating between the 2 exercises. This works out to a total of once or twice a week.
Check out this video to learn exercises for arthritic hands and wrists:
How can I stop arthritis getting worse in my hands?
I spent 26 years working as a Physical Therapist Assistant in Florida.
Over my career, I treated thousands of patients suffering from arthritis, both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
And, somewhat ironically, from performing hands-on treatments with my patients for all those years, I’ve developed arthritis in my own hands, particularly my thumbs.
So the subject of how to stop arthritis from getting worse is something personal for me.
And the steps you need to take to combat arthritis depends on the severity.
The exercises shown in the video will certainly be helpful for most people, but if your arthritis has become very severe and debilitating, you may benefit from some other forms of medical treatment.
In most cases, you’ll need to start with a visit to a doctor who specializes in diagnosis and treatment of arthritis, such as an orthopedist (for osteoarthritis) or a rheumatologist (for rheumatoid arthritis). After examining you, they can prescribe the appropriate treatment.
Goals of treatment are to:
- Decrease joint pain and stiffness.
- Improve mobility and function.
- Increase your quality of life.
- In the case of rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis, to slow the progression of the disease.
Treatment options include exercise, splinting/bracing, medications, injections, non-drug approaches and surgery.
There are currently no medications approved that help slow the progression of osteoarthritis. (My.Clevelandclinic.org)
A healthcare provider may prescribe medications to reduce joint pain and swelling and, in the case of rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis, to prevent joint damage.
For osteoarthritis, acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are typically recommended as needed for relief of your symptoms.
Can you reverse arthritis in hands?
You can’t reverse your arthritis, but certain treatments can help slow the progression of the disease and help you manage your condition.
One of the most valuable things you can do to deal with arthritis is to develop the right mindset towards it.
Which is the mindset that you are not going to let arthritis beat you.
And a key principle in your fight against arthritis is to KEEP MOVING.
As we say in physical therapy – “Motion is Lotion”. 😊
Getting the right kind of treatment can ease your pain and help you maintain or even improve function, which will enable you to carry out daily activities.
Treatment options depend on the type of arthritis, stage of arthritis, how many joints are affected, your age, activity level, the hand affected (if it’s your dominant hand) and other existing medical conditions.
A complete treatment plan for arthritis of the hand includes these additional approaches:
- Exercises — strengthening and stretching — to reduce symptoms and improve function. The exercises in the video are among the best exercises for arthritic hands.
- Hot and cold packs. Cold can help reduce pain and swelling. Heat can help reduce stiffness. Apply for no longer than 20 minutes at a time.
- Rest. Regular rest periods can help relieve pain and inflammation in your joints.
- Healthy eating to provide the essential nutrients your body requires to keep your joints lubricated and your tissues pliable.
- Weight loss if you’re overweight. Being too heavy puts additional stress on your already compromised joints.
- Smoking cessation. Smoking increases your risk of developing arthritis.
- If arthritis becomes so severe that activities of daily living become unmanageable, occupational therapy can help you to learn how to use self-help devices, including those used to assist with dressing or preparing food in the kitchen.
Summary: Exercises for arthritic hands
- Arthritis is a disease process that wears away the articular cartilage in a joint.
- When arthritis affects the joints of your hands or fingers, it can cause pain, stiffness, weakness, and joint deformity.
- Treatment options include exercise, splinting/bracing, medications, injections, non-drug approaches and surgery.
- There are currently no medications approved that help slow the progression of osteoarthritis.
- You can’t reverse your arthritis, but certain treatments can help slow the progression of the disease and help you manage your condition.
- The exercises in the video are among the best exercises for arthritic hands.
For answers to YOUR questions about how to build and maintain strength after 50 on a video like this, subscribe here, Then email me your question.
Related content for exercises for arthritic hands:
- Subscriber Q and A Video: Best Exercise For Arthritic Knees
- Subscriber Q and A Video: 5 Great Free Weight Exercises For Over 50
- These Are The Best Exercises For Over 50 And Out Of Shape You Can Start Doing Today
- Case Study: How I Added 2.2 Pounds Of Muscle With Four 30-Minute Workouts At Age 63
- Case Study: How I Screwed Up My Knee, Rebuilt It, And Climbed A 12,000 Foot Mountain
Excellent video for forearm and hand strengthening exercises. You wrist roller looks exactly like the one I made about 25 years ago! You may want to have included your recommendations for frequency of doing these exercises.
Hi David, glad you liked the video. I had a different wrist roller back then with a rope that was so long you had to hold the pipe overhead, an idea I got from working in the NFL. But later on I noticed many of my older clients who had shoulder problems had to stop when their shoulders gave out vs. their forearms. Shortening the rope and keeping the elbows at 90 degrees has eliminated that problem.
Great suggestion for including recommendations for frequency, I’ll add that to the post.