Treating Hand Arthritis

Arthritis wears away the cartilage in your joints. In return this can cause inflammation and irritation of the synovial lining. The synovial lining produces a fluid that helps lubricate and protect the joint which is called synovial fluid. When your hands become affected, pain and stiffness will occur in the joints. Doing repetitive movements such as typing on a keyboard or crocheting can cause discomfort and can lead to a decrease in strength. Losing strength in your hands may lead to the simplest tasks becoming hard such as using utensils or opening jars.


In the earlier stages of arthritis, a dull/burning sensation may overtake your fingers. You could experience this after an active day of using your fingers. Other signs/symptoms include swelling and stiffness in your tissue and cartilage along with:

  • Inflammation leaving your joint feeling warm
  • Mucous Cysts
  • Bone Spurs


Though medication is an option, there are other options. Steroid injections and splinting your hand are just a few. Other options include physical therapy. A therapist will work with you and design activities that help strengthen your muscles that support the joints in your hand. These exercises may include Thera-putty, a hand grip strengthener, an extensor hand exerciser, and a finger pinch exerciser. Also, they will work closely with you to help with any ROM problems you may be having. This helps keep ligaments and tendons flexible. Lastly, exercise is an option. Exercise will increase the production of synovial fluid which helps improve joint function.

At Home Exercises

There are some great exercises you can do at home to help with any pain you may be having. These exercises include little to no equipment and don’t take very much time.

  • Grabbing a Squeeze Ball
    • Using a soft ball, hold it in the palm of your hand and squeeze. You will want to hold each squeeze for a few seconds and repeat 10 times.
  • Lifting Your Fingers
    • With your hand flat on a surface, lift each finger starting with your thumb. Hold each finger up for a few seconds and repeat 10 times.

For more exercises, check out Youtube. You will find videos that walk you through the steps of each exercise.

While arthritis may overtake your life, you have the power to help manage/treat it. Physical therapy is the best option because the therapist will work with you and design a plan that works with your daily routine. Your therapist will walk through the journey of getting you back to your “normal” so you don’t feel alone. If you are interested in physical therapy, we at Hohman Rehab would love to help you! To schedule click here.