11 highly effective finger exercises for osteoarthritis pain

Sometimes, many of us take for granted the ability to do certain basic things like turning a doorknob, carrying a bag, turning on a light switch or holding a pen. People with osteoarthritis, on the other hand, have it a lot harder.  This form of arthritis can affect your ability to perform daily life tasks, and it can be pretty frustrating. What’s more, when you have osteoarthritis, the damage caused to your cartilage is irreversible. 

Are you suffering from debilitating pain caused by osteoarthritis? If so, the good news is that there are certain types of finger exercises that are designed to ease osteoarthritis pain and improve joint function; so that you can live a pretty normal life. In this post, We will go into detail to understand exactly what osteoarthritis is, the causes and symptoms of osteoarthritis, and finally 11 highly effective finger exercises to ease osteoarthritis pain.

What is osteoarthritis? 

Osteoarthritis in Fingers Exercises

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You are probably aware by now that rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are the most common types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is caused by a breakdown of cartilage around the joints. The cartilage is a firm connective tissue that covers and protects bones at the joints. Through normal use, cartilage can experience wear and tear; once broken down, it causes bones in the joint to rub against each other.

Osteoarthritis mostly presents in older people, but it is possible for adults of any age to develop the condition. Apart from normal wear and tear, there are other causes of osteoarthritis. These include overusing joints in sports or in a job, past injuries like a torn cartilage, dislocated joint, and ligament injuries. Furthermore, risk factors like obesity, poor posture and genetics can also make you more prone to developing osteoarthritis. 

Now that we have shed some light on what exactly osteoarthritis is, we will give you a little insight into the likely causes and symptoms of osteoarthritis in the fingers, just so you have an idea of what the risk factors are.

Causes of Osteoarthritis of the fingers 

Osteoarthritis can affect different parts of the body, including the fingers where it is sometimes known as digital osteoarthritis. It affects the joints at the fingertips, the knuckle in the middle of the finger, and the joint at the base of the thumb. Osteoarthritis of the fingers can be especially distressing because it can impair your ability to handle day-to-day tasks – even something as simple as picking up a grocery bag may suddenly prove to be challenging.

Although osteoarthritis of the fingers can affect anyone, it appears that women are more prone to it than men, and often get it at a younger age. And just like the other types of arthritis, osteoarthritis of the fingers can be caused by wear and tear of the cartilage in the finger joints.

What’s more, a person with a family history of osteoarthritis in the fingers is more likely to develop the same type. Apart from this, there are certain jobs that are known to create a higher risk of osteoarthritis in the fingers, due to overuse of the finger joints. Dressmakers, typists and pianists, for example, all fall in the category of people whose jobs create a risk of developing digital osteoarthritis. 

Now, let’s take a look at the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis of the fingers

The main symptoms of osteoarthritis of the fingers are:

  • Pain in the fingers, and especially at the base of the thumb
  • Swelling 
  • Tenderness (discomfort when you press against your fingers)
  • Inability to bend your fingers
  • A dull ache when using your fingers 
  • A clicking and cracking sound (called crepitus) when you move your fingers.
  • Weakness in the finger which makes it difficult to grip or hold on to objects. 
  • In advanced cases, you may notice a growth of spurs or nodules at the finger joints. A spur is a hardened bone that attaches itself to the joint. When this happens on the middle joint of the finger, it is called Bouchard’s nodes, and when it happens on the end joints, it is called Heberden’s nodes. 

Exercises for osteoarthritis of the fingers 


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Apart from consuming foods that help ease arthritis pain, doctors advise that physical therapy is crucial for managing osteoarthritis of the fingers. Physical activity helps to strengthen the muscles around the joints and may relieve pain stiffness. However, there’s no need to worry about not being able to afford physical therapy, as there are many exercises that you can do on your own – right from the comfort of your home.

There are two common types of osteoarthritis finger exercises. The first includes muscle strengthening exercises that build your ability to grip objects. The second includes a range of motion exercises that stretch the joints and ease stiffness. In no particular order, here are 11 exercises that can help to alleviate the problems caused by osteoarthritis of the fingers.

1. Finger Curls 

Hold your right hand out straight, extend your fingers, then fold them into a fist, whilst keeping your thumb outside your fingers. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, then open your hand again to straighten your fingers. Make sure your fingers are spread out wide. Do this 10 times on your right hand and then repeat it 10 times on your left hand. 

2. Make an “O”

Make an ‘O’ by curving all your fingers inward until they touch. Keep your fingers in this position for a few seconds, then straighten them out. Do this again a few times and repeat on the other hand. You can do this exercise several times each day, or whenever your fingers feel stiff. 

3. Finger Stretch 1

On a table, place your hand palm-down and stretch it so it becomes as flat as possible on the table. Keep it this way for about 60 seconds, then release your hand and repeat the exercise on your other hand. Do the exercise about five times on each hand. 

4. The Finger Bend 

Stretch out your hand with your fingers spread wide open. Start with your thumb and bend it towards your inner palm. Hold it in position for a few seconds then release. Now bend your forefinger towards your inner palm, hold it for a few seconds and then release it. Repeat the same actions for your middle finger, ring finger, and pinky finger. Don’t forget to do it on your other hand as well.

5. Strength Builder 

Hold a piece of paper and use just one hand to crumple it up as fast as you can. 

6. Finger Stretch 2 

Place one hand down on a table. Put your other hand over the hand on the table. Now lift up the fingers of the bottom hand. You can lift the fingers one at a time, or lift them all at once. 

7. Finger Lifts 

Place one hand flat on a table. Lift each finger off the table, one at a time. Lower the finger back on to the table. Do the same thing for each finger and repeat the exercise about 8 times for each finger.

8. Finger Flexion 

Use one hand to grasp one finger of the other hand. Make sure that your thumb is on the top side of the finger, just below the joint that nearest to your fingertip. Bend your finger slowly, only at the joint near your fingertip. Repeat eight times. Now do the exercise for all fingers and then switch to your other hand. 

9. Thumb Stretch 

Relax your hand and stretch it out. Make sure all your fingers and your thumb are straight. Now fold your thumb across your palm, so that it touches the bottom part of your pinky finger. Release your thumb back to the starting position. Repeat the exercise a few times with each thumb. 

10. The Thumbs Up Stretch

Make a loose fist with your hand and point your thumb upwards to make the thumbs-up sign. Put your thumb down and then repeat. Do this multiple times for both of your thumbs. 

11. The Claw Stretch

Bend all your fingers at the middle joint to make a claw. Hold them in position for a few seconds and the release. 

Repeating these exercises on a regular basis will alleviate pain and improve the joint function for people dealing with osteoarthritis of the fingers. For severe cases, it is recommended that you spend 20-30 minutes each day, exercising your fingers.  

To Conclude

We hope you enjoyed reading this article and, most importantly, we hope the listed osteoarthritis finger exercises will help prove effective to ease any pain. If you have discovered any more exercises that can help, please let us know in the comments section and share this article with others.

The articles on this site are not medical or certified advice, all content that has been created is simply our opinions,experiences and independent research. We strongly advise seeking professional,qualified expert advice from either your GP or a certified medical practitioner before making any changes to do with your health,diet, exercise or habits.