There are more things that we can do these days than there were for us growing up, thanks to the emergence of new technology and new ways of doing things. However, it can be difficult to fully take advantage of this interesting new situation when we find ourselves beset by maladies. These can truly get in the way of us making the most of the situations we find ourselves in, preventing us from benefiting through obstructions in a physical sense. Even in terms of just living simple day-to-day life, physical problems like arthritis can decrease the quality of life by making it difficult to do simple things as just opening doors or writing.
Arthritis pain makes its presence felt in the body in clear ways. There is pain in the joints, generally caused by the wearing down of cartilage over time – particularly for osteoarthritis, which with rheumatoid arthritis are two of the more prominent types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is brought about by general wear and tear on the joints of the body, although it can also develop suddenly. Its onset can also be exacerbated by injury or other damage to a joint. Rheumatoid arthritis, in particular, can be a bit more concerning as it is an autoimmune disease. Regardless of which of the many types of arthritis one develops, it can get in the way of doing anything from the most unusual fun activity or the most mundane daily task.
There are ways to deal with the confounding situation that joint pain puts us in. For one, we can eat food that helps our bodies fight inflammation, which is essentially what occurs in the joints that causes pain and difficulty of motion. There is also medication, which can help curb the inflammation as well. This option in particular is best explored with the advice of a physician, as some medications might not agree with our systems. Another is to do some exercises that will help fight the arthritis pain in the joints.
- Make a fist. Making a fist is in and of itself a good exercise. This simple exercise can help increase the range of motion in fingers, and provide some relief from pain. Gently close the fingers into a fist, wrap the thumb around the fingers, and hold for 30 to 60 seconds. After this, open the hand and stretch the fingers wide. You can do this four times for each hand. This exercise will hopefully provide a good starting point for later exercises like grip strengthening and pinch strengthening, as it keeps and increases the usable range of motion in the fingers.
- Finger stretch. Place the hand on a flat surface, palm facing down, relaxed but not flat. Without forcing the joints, gently stretch the fingers until the hand is flat on the surface (or as close to flat as you can comfortably get). Hold for 30 to 60 seconds and then release; this can also be done for four times with each hand.
- Claw stretch. Hold your hand out before you with the palm facing you. Slowly bend your fingertips down to touch the base of each finger. As this happens the hand should be turning into a claw shape. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, and then release. You can do this four times for each hand to relieve yourself from arthritis pain.
- Squeeze ball. Squeeze balls and stress balls make good grip strengtheners. By strengthening your grip you can manage to make certain tasks easier despite the arthritis, such as gripping and turning a door knob and holding things in your hand. Taking one such soft ball in the hand, squeeze it as hard as you can and hold for a few seconds before releasing. Do this 15 times with each hand. Do this a few times each week, but put 48 hours between sessions. Take note that you are not to do this if there is damage in the thumb joint.
- Pinch strengthener. This exercise can develop your finger and thumb muscles, improving your ability to turn keys, tear open food packages, and pull a gas pump handle, among other tasks. Similar to the grip strengthener, you can take a soft foam ball and pinch it between your fingertips and thumb. Hold this for 30 to 60 seconds, then release. This can be repeated 10 to 15 times per hand. Do this a few times a week but take a 48 hour break in between rounds. If your thumb joint is damaged, skip this exercise.
- Finger lift. Place your hand flat on a table or other surface. Slowly and gently lift one finger as high away from the surface (leaving the palm flat) as is comfortable, then lower it. Do this for each finger. Alternatively, each rep can be lifting all fingers away from the surface. Repeat this for 8 to 12 times per hand.
- Thumb extension. Strengthening your thumb control will help you grip heavy things like bottles. This exercise calls for a rubber band, which should be placed around the base of your finger joints. With the band in position, place your hand flat on a table or other surface. Gently extend the thumb away from the fingers as far as you can, pulling on the rubber band as a result, and then return the thumb to its original position. Hold this for 30 to 60 seconds, then release. You can do 10 to 15 repetitions for each hand. Take a rest for 48 hours between sessions to rest your hands.
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