Hand Exercises to Ease Arthritis Pain

Arthritis wears away at the cartilage and synovial lining of a joint, which is the cushioning material between bones. When arthritis affects the joints of the hands, it can cause pain and stiffness. That pain can get worse whenever you use the hand a lot—for example, when typing on a computer keyboard or gripping utensils in the kitchen. You may also lose strength in your hands. Weakness in your hands can make it hard to do even the simplest everyday tasks, such as opening jars.  Here are some exercises to try.  Some can even be done placing hands in warm water.


  • Palms flat on table, raise and lower fingers and thumb, one by one.
  • Make an "O" by touching thumb to fingertips one at a time.  Try to keep other fingers away from each other.
  • Touch the pad of the thumb to the pad of each finger.
  • Close all of the fingers and thumb into a tight fist then open the fingers wide.
  • Rest hand on table, spread fingers wide and then bring them together.
  • Palm flat on table, lift all of the fingers and thumb off table, keeping palm down on table.
  • Touch the thumb to the base or the bottom of the little finger.
  • Bend the thumb in toward the palm, then move it out (like a hitch-hikers thumb).
  • Keeping the fingers straight, bend your fingers at the knuckles, making a 90 degree angle between your fingers and palm.
  • Squeeze a small rubber ball or sponge in your hand.
  • Crumple a sheet of paper into a small ball with one hand.