Does Hand Grip Help With Arthritis?

Medically Reviewed on 5/24/2022
Does hand grip help with arthritis?
Hands are one of the most used parts of the body and almost every action is accompanied by stiffness or pain.

Because your hands are engaged in multiple functions every day, hand strength is a powerful predictor of your overall capacity to function and how severe your arthritis is.

Strengthening grip is a simple method to keep the joints, muscles, and bones functioning properly. Furthermore, studies show that a firm grasp is a predictor of general health and lifespan.

How does arthritis affect your hands?

Arthritis of any type can affect small joints of your hands, which may be quite frustrating. Hands are one of the most used parts of the body and almost every action is accompanied by stiffness or pain, which can be extremely challenging.

Hand arthritis causes:

  • The decline in grip strength.
  • Problems doing daily chores.
  • A loss of productive work time.
  • Diminished capacity to execute manual activities.

Why is hand grip important?

Many ordinary activities, particularly those involving grasping, lifting, tugging, and transporting items require hands. Strong muscles and healthy joints in the hands, wrists, and forearms play an important part when you are lifting a sofa, walking the dog, opening a jar, or swinging a golf club.

Grip strength is an excellent indicator of lifespan. Research has proven that grip is a stronger predictor of all-cause and cardiovascular-related mortality than systolic blood pressure.

One of the most important management measures for arthritis is to preserve the grip while avoiding overstressing the joints. Instead of doing nothing, modify the way you use your hands.

9 ways to build up grip strength

Most cases of handgrip weakness may be treated at home with immobilization, over-the-counter medicines, and exercise.

  1. Wrist extension
    • Hold one arm out in front of you at shoulder height.
    • Make a stop sign with your hand and slowly draw the palm back toward your body with your other hand. A stretch should be felt in your inner forearm.
    • Hold for 10 seconds, then relax and repeat on each side five times. You may use this as a warmup before performing grip workouts.
  2. Wrist flexion
    • Hold one arm out in front of you at shoulder height.
    • With your palm facing away from your body and your fingers pointing down, gradually bring the palm back toward your body with your other hand. This should be felt in your outside forearm.
    • Hold the stretch for 10 seconds, then rest before repeating it five times on each side.
  3. Full finger extension
    • You may perform this exercise by slowly creating a fist and then slowly expanding and stretching your fingers as wide as you can.
    • Return to the starting position after three to five seconds. However, to truly enhance your strength, you must practice with resistance. The continuous degree of resistance throughout the whole range of motion will put your intrinsic and extrinsic extensors to the test. This will provide you the opportunity to focus on increasing your range of motion, dexterity, and control.
  4. Thumb touches
    • Connect the tips of each finger to your thumb, one at a time, to form an O shape.
    • Repeat as needed. You may use various tools to enhance the range of motion in your thumb and fingers while training your forearm flexor and extensor muscles. Building strength in this manner will go a long way toward relieving pain.
  5. Pinching
    • In contrast to the fingers, pinching entails holding something with the thumbs. This can be both static and dynamic.
    • Static refers to no movement, such as clasping aboard, and dynamic refers to action, such as gripping the clamp handles with force.
  6. Supporting
    • Supporting involves raising something, usually in an isometric fashion, such as deadlifts, rows, and kettlebell exercises, with the fingers bearing most of the weight.
    • It is worth mentioning that supporting demands you to wrap your fingers tightly around the handle. If the handle is wide enough to allow a space between the fingers and thumb, it is referred to as open hand support.
  7. Battle ropes
    • Battle ropes are commonly used for muscular and cardiovascular fitness, yet for some even holding onto the ropes may be difficult.
    • Grasp one end of the rope in each hand and experiment with double waves (moving both arms up and down quickly) and alternating waves (raising one arm while lowering the other).
  8. Dead hang
    • Try dead hangs or pull-up holds at a playground if you have access to a pull-up bar or monkey bars.
    • To do a dead hang, jump or step up to grab both hands on the bar.
    • Hang straight-armed for as long as possible, taking care to retract your scapula to drag your shoulders down and back away from your ears.
    • Make the hang more difficult by performing a pull-up and remaining in the top position.
  9. Over-the-counter medications
    • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin, may help alleviate symptoms of hand weakness caused by inflammation or discomfort. These drugs are frequently used to treat the symptoms of arthritis and other inflammatory disorders, but they do not address the underlying source of the problem.


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Medically Reviewed on 5/24/2022
Image Source: iStock Image

Harvard Health Publishing. Getting a grip on hand osteoarthritis.

Cleveland Clinic. Losing Your Grip? How to Treat Your Thumb Arthritis.

Andersen CH. Arthritis and Grip Strength: How to Protect Your Hand Grip. CreakyJoints.