Produced by Bupa's Health Information Team, January 2009.
This video is for adults with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. It is not for people who have had joint replacement surgery.
The following exercises are commonly used by people with arthritis to keep their joints mobile and relieve symptoms. They include range of movement exercises which take their joints through a full range and strengthening exercises. However, these exercises may not be suitable for everybody. It's important to talk to your GP or physiotherapist before you start any new exercise regime. If you've had surgery to the affected area it also may not be suitable for you to do these exercises. When doing the exercises it's important to follow each one carefully to prevent any injuries, and if any of the exercises cause you dizziness, visual disturbance or sharp pain, stop immediately.
With some types of arthritis you can get flare ups where your symptoms become much worse or are more painful. It's important during these times to remain active although you can continue with your range of movement exercises, the more strenuous parts of your exercise regime can be left until your symptoms subside.
Range of movement exercises
Range of movement exercises put your joints through their full range of movements. This helps to keep them flexible and supple, and is important in strengthening joints. Try to do these exercises every day twice a day. Start by repeating them three times and gradually build up to 10 repetitions as your joints get stronger.
Curl all your fingers into a fist then open your hand and stretch your fingers back out.
Spread your fingers into a wide span, then close them back together.
Keeping your thumb straight, circle it back and forth.
Stretch your thumb away from the palm of your hand as far as you can. Then pull your thumb back to touch the tip of each finger on the same hand in turn.
Bend your wrists up and down towards and away from your body.
Strengthening exercises for your hands, wrists and forearms help to strengthen the muscles which move, protect and support your joints. This can help to make your joints more stable. Try to do your strengthening exercises twice a day every day. Start by repeating them three times and gradually build up to 10 repetitions as your joints get stronger.
With your hand flat on the table hold a piece of paper tightly between your fingers. Try to remove it with your other hand.
With your forearm and hand resting on your thigh or on a table, put your other hand on top of it and try to lift up against it. Repeat this exercise on your other hand.
Repeat again, but this time rest your forearm and hand palm down.
This video is intended for general information only. It shows an example of one person’s experience. Your circumstances may be different so not everything may apply to you. It does not replace the need for personal advice from a medical practitioner.
This information was published by Bupa's Health Information Team and is based on reputable sources of medical evidence. It has been reviewed by appropriate medical or clinical professionals. Photos are only for illustrative purposes and do not reflect every presentation of a condition. The content is intended only for general information and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional. For more details on how we produce our content and its sources, visit the About our Health Information page.
Publication date: January 2009