Arthritis thins the cartilage in the joints, causing inflammation, stiffness, and pain. In case the hands are involved, simple tasks like using a keyboard or utensil become difficult to perform.
The most common arthritis treatments include anti-inflammatory treatments, prescribed pain medications, steroid injections, and even surgical repairs, which are used as last resort.
Before one is subjected to something as dramatic as surgery, it is recommended to try out certain home exercises to alleviate pain and stiffness. You can perform these exercises along with taking the prescribed medications, or on their own. They can be performed anywhere and are designed to ease the joints the hands.
1. Making a Fist
Hold your hand up straight without extending the arm. Then, bend it into a fist, keeping the thumb on the outside of the hand. Don’t squeeze the hand! Once the fist is formed, open the hand and do 10 repetitions with each hand.
2. Finger Bending
Begin with the same position as in the first exercise. Then, bend the thumb down so that it touches the palm, keeping the other fingers straight. Hold this position for about 10 seconds before straightening it back up. Do the same with each finger before switching to the next hand.
3. Thumb Stretch
Instead of bending the thumb until it touches the palm as in the previous exercise, you need to touch the pinky finger. However, you don’t necessarily have to touch it, as your goal is to stretch as far as you can. Hold this position for a couple of seconds and do 10 repetitions with each hand.
4. The Claw
Also known as “O” exercise, this exercise begins with your hands held up and straightened as if giving a high-five. To make a claw or O-like shape, curve the fingers until they touch. Hold for about 10 seconds before straightening out. Repeat the exercise a couple of times daily on each hand.
5. Table Bending
Begin with the handshake position, resting the side of your hand on a flat surface, such as a table. Keep the thumb straight up while folding the fingers inward. Hold this position for a while before releasing. Do 10 repetitions with each hand.
6. Finger Lifts
Put the hand on a table, keeping the palm down and the fingers spread. Lift the thumb as high as possible while keeping the other fingers flat. Hold this position for a few seconds and repeat the same with each finger.
7. Wrist Stretch
Given the fact that arthritis in the hands doesn’t involve only the fingers, you should perform some exercises involving the wrists as well. Hold one arm out straight with the wrist loose, hanging the palm down. Press the other hand against the back of the loose hand, pushing it towards the body. You should push until you feel a stretching sensation in both the wrist and the arm. Hold for a while and then release.
Even though the exercises outlined below are very effective at keeping the joints loose, there other alternatives as well. Check out the ones below:
1. Ice pack
Ice can be very helpful with any form of inflammation or swelling, including arthritic hands. There are many options, such as a sack of frozen vegetables, ice cubs in a bag, or an ice pack. You should place an ice pack on one or more joints at the same time for a while, remove for about half a minute, and then repeat. To avoid frostbite, always place a towel between the ice pack and the skin.
The combination of tea and cinnamon relaxes stiffened muscles and ginger possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. So, teas calling for any of these can be beneficial in case of arthritis hands. For honey and cinnamon, mix a tablespoon of honey and half a teaspoon of cinnamon in your tea whole for ginger, boil some of it a cup of water for ten minutes and then strain. The first one should be consumed on an empty stomach while the second should be taken 2-3 times daily.
3. Epsom Salts
Given the fact that Epsom salts are abundant in magnesium, they alleviate nerve pain which is important for bone mineralization. Combine two cups of Epsom salt in a bath and soak your hands for about half an hour.
Turmeric acts as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, which can be helpful for pain relief in arthritic hands. However, you cannot make a tea with turmeric, as in the case with ginger. What you can do is to add a teaspoon of it to a glass of hot milk or add a tablespoon of turmeric to a quart of boiled water and boil for a few minutes.
Instead of eating the garlic in order to reap the anti-inflammatory benefits of its selenium and sulfur content, you can prepare a nice mixture and use it topically. Fry two chopped garlic cloves in mustard oil, allow it to cool, and apply onto the affected area.