Hand Exercises for Rheumatoid Arthritis
7 hand-stretching exercises to ease rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Hand Exercises for RA to Avoid
Certain exercises may also do more harm than good, adds Francoise Cherry, a
certified hand therapist at the Hospital for Joint Diseases in New York. “Most
patients say, ‘I have been squeezing a ball,’” she says. “But don't do this
because it puts more stress in the joints.”
Hand Exercises for Rheumatoid Arthritis: Pain Is Not OK
Matteson says there is one rule about hand exercises and RA you should
always follow: Hand exercises for rheumatoid arthritis should not hurt.
“If you experience pain, stop the hand exercises," he says. "Once the pain
has subsided, you can repeat the exercises with reduced intensity and
If the pain comes back or you can’t perform the hand exercises at reduced
intensity, there may be something else going on, like a joint dislocation. If
this occurs, “talk to your doctor,” he says.
Hand Exercises for RA: Protect Your Joints
Alexandra MacKenzie, an occupational therapist at the Hospital for Special
Surgery in New York, stresses that joint protection is key. “We focus on
protecting the joints, making sure inflammation is down and teaching people how
to modify their activities,” she says.
Lifestyle changes can also help protect hand and wrist joints and preserve
For example, “using heat first thing in the morning, which is when joints
are the stiffest because they were not moving all night, can be helpful,” she
says. This can take the form of a heating pad or just soaking your hands in
warm water in the shower.
Jar openers and other adaptive equipment may also help, she says.
Cherry says hand and wrist splints are also important for people with RA.
Splints help support and align joints. “The pattern of hand deformity is
uniform in rheumatoid arthritis, and we have splints that target this
deformity,” she says.