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Wrist Exercises for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Jan 23, 2015

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, autoimmune disease that attacks joints throughout the body and starts with the smallest joints like those in the hands and wrists. This painful disorder causes swelling, pain, limited motion, and weakness. Rheumatoid arthritis is also symmetrical, so both wrists will be affected by the disease.

If you’re dealing with the debilitating symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, there are ways to find relief. Certain wrist exercises can really help ease the pain of the disease by improving your circulation and range of motion.

Wrist Rotations

Lay your wrists on a flat surface, such as a table, with your palms facing downward. Rotate your wrists so that your palms are facing up towards the ceiling, and then rotate them back down to lie flat on the table. This is one full repetition. Perform ten repetitions.

Wrist Circles

Lay your wrists on a flat surface, such as a table, with your hands hanging off the edge. Move your wrist in full, clockwise circles, then switch, and move them in full, counterclockwise circles. Perform five of each.

Wrist Resister

Place your palms flat against one another and hold them in front of you. Use your right palm to press against your left palm and bend the left wrist backward while trying to resist with your left wrist. Perform five repetitions on one hand, then repeat with the other hand.

Tennis Ball Exercises

Hold a tennis ball in your hand and place the ball against a wall. Move the ball in small, clockwise circles, then switch to counterclockwise circles. Perform five repetitions of each. Then put the ball in the other hand and repeat.

Another beneficial exercise is to grasp the tennis ball in one hand, make a fist and squeeze it hard, then release. Squeeze the tennis ball hard for five repetitions, then switch to the other hand.

Side-to-Side Exercise

Place your palms flat on a table, pointing forward in front of you. Keep your forearms still and swivel your wrists as far to the left as possible, then as far to the right as possible, as if they are windshield wipers. Perform this motion ten times.

Wrist and Hand Stretch

Hold your arms out in front of you with your palms pointing away from you. Bend your wrist downward so that your fingertips are pointing at the floor, then lift your hands back up to the starting position. This is one repetition. Repeat this action ten times.

These exercises will help loosen the stiffness in your wrist joints in order to reduce pain and improve your range of motion. They will also help relieve any pain that you’re feeling in your hands and finger joints from rheumatoid arthritis. They can be done every day, or every other day, but if you’re experiencing fatigue from the exercises, you may want to cut back.

If you’re considering undergoing surgery to reduce painful symptoms of hand and wrist arthritis, click here to download our e-book, How to Choose an Orthopaedic Surgeon. This educational guide will provide you with all the information you need to find a reputable surgeon.