Arthritic Hands? No Problem — Here’s How To Help

Check out this video for a demonstration of exercises that can help your arthritis.

Oh, those fingers and thumbs. When they’re healthy we don’t give them a second thought. But when our hands are in pain almost every daily task turns into trouble. The problem could be incipient osteoarthritis.

Many people get osteoarthritis in the hands. Osteoarthritis is bone arthritis — not rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic or any sort of immune arthro-type. Typically, bone arthritis is caused by wear and tear of the fingers. Repetitive stress causes the body to defend itself with the growth of bone. It happens to chiropractors, construction workers, massage therapists, seamstresses, clerical workers who hold a pen hour upon hour — osteoarthritis is a danger for anyone who uses their hands a lot over the years.

Making pottery

It’s Not Your Age

The problem is that many people look at osteoarthritis as an aging disease that they can do nothing about — and that is not correct. The best way to prevent it is to start early by utilizing the joints in a way that combats the problems you create through repetitive use. If a joint is being repetitively stressed it needs a reprieve, and the solution is passive movement.

Exercises That Can Help

If we’re talking about your fingers, passive movement involves taking your right hand and reaching over to your left hand and pulling your fingers slightly and wiggling them to make the joints work. Basically, you’re using your right hand to make your left-hand fingers move. You take your fingers through a range of motion and work your fingers one at a time, devoting about five to six seconds per finger. It’s very quick, and what you’re doing is creating a passive movement versus active movement in that joint. With active movement your muscles create the action, which in turn causes the joint to further compress and irritate the developing arthritis. When you pull a joint open with the opposite hand, it’s being opened passively. It’s similar to having someone else stretch you versus stretching yourself.

With fingers, it only takes passive movement a few times a day to minimize the chance of arthritis developing. What you’re technically doing is taking the synovial fluid that naturally develops in the joint and bathing the cartilage all the way through, which helps keep it healthy. When you overuse your hands they defend themselves by limiting their motion. And you probably don’t even realize you’re limiting your motion. Then if you don’t take joint movement to its end range, you lose the ability go to that end range — the old “use it or lose it.” That’s when cartilage dries and synovial fluid cannot bathe it.

Passive movement daily is incredibly helpful to keep joints healthy and avoid arthritis. The best news is that it only takes 10 or 20 seconds at a time a few times a day for these exercises. If you already have arthritis, you’ll be amazed at how beneficial it is in only a few days. If your arthritis is severe then any movement hurts, and you have to be more careful and you’ll see results more slowly. But at least you’ll stop its progression.

If these movements take you out of your comfort zone, then I strongly recommend you give me a call and I’ll show you how to become an expert at the technique. People with mild arthritis usually see real improvement in about three days. People with moderate arthritis usually see real improvement in about three weeks. People with severe arthritis need to be evaluated more thoroughly.