mature woman massages hand to relieve arthritis pain

Are there hand exercises for arthritis that can ease the pain? Yes! In this article, we’re going to show you 10 simple hand exercises for arthritis. Doing these exercises a little every day could help lower pain and improve movement in your hands. 

Get the facts about arthritis

How much do you know about arthritis? If you have arthritis, joint pain, and stiffness in your hands and fingers, you’re not alone. Here are a few things you should know about arthritis: 

  • About 58.5 million adults in the U.S. have some form of arthritis. For adults over 65, about 50% have been diagnosed with arthritis. 3
  • There are 100 different types of arthritis.
  • Arthritis is most commonly felt in the hands, hips, and knees.
  • Arthritis symptoms usually include joint pain and stiffness.
  • About half the people with arthritis have a hard time doing simple tasks.
  • There is no cure for arthritis, but medicine, exercise, and sometimes surgery can help.

The types of arthritis that causes pain and stiffness in the hands

There’s two types of arthritis that cause pain and stiffness the hands: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

  1. It’s the most common form of arthritis. And it usually causes pain and stiffness in the hands, knees and hips.
  2. Rheumatoid arthritis. It’s a form of arthritis that is painful, ongoing, and can destroy joint tissue.

Here’s what happens when you have osteoarthritis (the most common type):

  • The smooth covering on the end of bones begins to break down around bones and joints.
  • Lack of the smooth covering on the end of bones causes pain and swelling in a joint.
  • Without enough protection for the bones, the bones of a joint rub together.

Pain and stiffness caused by arthritis in the hands can limit the ability to move. It can also have a negative impact on your quality of life. The good news: Hand exercises for arthritis and other treatments can help. There is no cure, but it’s possible to slow the symptoms from getting worse.

The warm-up exercise to reduce arthritis pain in the hands

Ready for some hand exercises for arthritis to ease the pain? First, be sure to talk with your doctor. Then, it’s time for a warm-up.

Start with warm water. Place your hands deep into a bowl or sink of warm water. This routine will help lower pain. How? Putting your hands under water helps reduce pressure on the joints. Warm water also helps increase blood flow to stiff muscles and joints.

10 hand exercises for arthritis to ease the pain

Done with the warm-up exercise? Great.  Do these 10 hand exercises for arthritis to ease pain and stiffness, as well as improve movement. Do 1 repetition per day. Go up to 10 times a day as the joint gets stronger.

Exercise #1: Joint Blocking

  • Lay the hand palm side up on a flat surface.
  • With the opposite hand, hold the middle section of the affected finger below the joint, near the fingertip.
  • Bend the finger at that joint while keeping the rest of the finger straight, and hold for 5 seconds.
  • Repeat for each finger as necessary. Bend only the joint below the middle part of the finger.

Exercise #2: Wrist Bend

  • Stretch out the arm, pointing the fingers forward.
  • Slowly bend the wrist backward (toward the ceiling), and then forward (toward the floor).

Exercise #3: Finger Touch

  • Open the hand flat.
  • Place the tip of the thumb on the pad of the pinkie.
  • Hold for 5 seconds. Then repeat on the pointer finger.
  • Then continue pressing the thumb to the pad of each finger, moving back toward the pinkie.

Exercise #4: Make a Fist

  • Place the palm face up and slowly make a loose fist, keeping the thumb on the outside.
  • Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat on the opposite hand as necessary.
  • Do not squeeze the fingers into the palm.

Exercise #5: Finger Lifts

  • Place the hand palm side down on a flat surface.
  • Lift the thumb off the table slowly, and hold for 2 seconds.
  • Return to the starting position, and repeat for each finger.

Exercise #6: Table Bend

  • Lay the pinkie-side edge of the hand on a flat surface with the thumb pointed up.
  • Bend the other 4 fingers at the base joint, creating an “L” shape.
  • Hold for 5 seconds before returning to the start.

Exercise #7: Finger Stretch

  • With the hand laying palm down on a flat surface, place the other hand on top.
  • The top hand should lay alongside the base joints of the fingers.
  • Do not press down on the bottom hand, but hold it firm.
  • Slowly lift up all 4 fingers, and hold for 5 seconds before returning to the start. Alternatively, you can lift each finger individually.

Exercise #8: Finger Spread

  • Hold the hand upright with the fingers pointed toward the ceiling.
  • Spread the fingers away from each other as far as is comfortable.
  • Hold for 5 seconds before returning to the start.

Exercise #9: Make a “C”

  • Hold the hand out flat, with the pinkie-side edge pointed down.
  • Curl the fingers and thumb into the shape of a “C.”

Exercise #10: Finger Bend

  • Place the hand upright, with the finger pointed toward the ceiling.
  • Bend the pointer finger at the base joint toward the palm. Keep the other joints straight, and hold for 2 seconds.
  • Repeat with the other finger, and bend the thumb so it points forward.

Need a little more help learning how to do hand exercises for arthritis to ease the pain?

Check out these additional resources to for arthritis exercises:

For more information about getting medical care for arthritis and improve your health, talk with a licensed health insurance agent at HealthMarkets. We can help you find the plan you want at the price you need. Call us now at (800) 429-5058, or explore your options online.



1. 11 Hand Exercises to Ease Osteoarthritis Pain. Retrieved from: Accessed on April 7, 2022. | 2. Facts about arthritis. Retrieved from: Accessed on March 4, 2022. | 3. Arthritis related statistics. Retrieved from: Accessed on March 4, 2022. | 4. Arthritis types. Retrieved from Accessed on April 7, 2022.

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