With age and other stressors, we become more prone to developing disorders in our bones. Arthritis in the hands is one such condition. It limits your movements, making the activities you enjoy a thing of the past. Even simple everyday tasks like grasping small objects and lifting weight become difficult and extremely painful. You’d be surprised to know that more than 50 million Americans suffer from arthritis.

However, identifying early symptoms can help you seek hand pain treatment before your condition worsens. This article will discuss types, early signs and hand exercises for arthritis.

Types of arthritis


Osteoarthritis (degenerative arthritis) happens due to the degeneration of cartilage. It occurs when joints are overused. However, factors like age, obesity and joint injuries can also cause the disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis

This is an autoimmune disorder that results from the immune system attacking the joints in your body. It causes inflammation which can lead to serious joint damage.

Early Signs Of Arthritis In Hands

person opening basket with hands


  • Joint stiffness, particularly in the morning
  • Pain in the affected site
  • Swelling in the same area
  • Reduced motion in the damaged joint
  • Inflammation in the skin near the affected joint
  • Reduced functioning or loss of functioning in the damaged muscle or joint
  • Popping sound when you move the joint
  • Bump-like, bony swellings in the affected hand
  • Warm sensation in the skin
  • Skin plaques and pitted nails (aka psoriatic arthritis)
  • Fever (in some cases)
  • A numbing sensation in fingers
  • Nodules or lumps inside the skin of hands (in rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Trouble moving hands for activities that involve twisting and gripping (for example, opening a jar)
  • Abnormal mobility in neighboring joints (in advanced thumb based arthritis)
  • Crepitation or grinding sensation in the affected joint due to impaired ligaments
  • Formation of cysts in DIP joints or end joints of the fingers
  • Stiffness following resting

Hand Exercises For Arthritis

Your doctor might recommend hand physical therapy where you work with a specialist to manage pain. But some hand exercises can also help relieve pain and maintain flexibility in hand tendons and ligaments. Here are some of them:

  • Put your hand on a flat surface, stretch your fingers sideways, then gently bring them close to each other.
  • Make a loose fist as if you’re punching, then open your fingers straightening them. Repeat this several times. Do this for each hand.
  • Place your hand in a flat position and gently move your thumb sideways. Then bring it back toward your palm.
  • Keeping your wrist on the edge of a table, leave your hand loose so that it’s freely pointing downward. Relax your fingers, then slowly raise your hand until it’s stretching. Then lower it again. Repeat this exercise a few times.

Hand exercises provide temporary relief from pain. The long-term solution is to get hand pain therapy. At Able Hands Rehabilitation, we provide professional hand pain therapy so you can go back to enjoying the everyday activities that you said goodbye to because of your hand condition.

Visit our website to get in touch with a certified hand therapist in NJ.