Hand function is crucial for maintaining independence for daily life activities. Hands perform countless small and large tasks each day – such as brushing teeth, raking leaves, pouring coffee, or preparing meals. Hand stiffness can make simple tasks overwhelming.

According to an article published in The Journals of Gerontology, hand function decreases with age in both men and women, especially after the age of 65.[1] The age-related challenges often relate to grip, strength, and hand dexterity in the elderly population. Common conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoporosis are factors in impaired hand function.

There are many ways to help put our hands back to work such as surgery, therapy, medications, as well as other non-surgical methods. One easy and noninvasive way to help keep joints flexible, improve range of motion, and relieve arthritis pain is by doing hand exercises. The British Medical Journal published a study about how various stretches can help promote full hand function and range of motion. The study authors found that the participants with rheumatoid arthritis had improved hand function after practicing hand exercises.[2]

Other non-drug therapies might include upper extremity orthotics or braces, which can stabilize joints while sleeping. Exercise and stretching can also help maintain joint movement, flexibility, and relieve stiffness. Integrity Rehab’s occupational therapy team includes Certified Hand Therapists who can create an intervention program designed specifically to meet your needs. Click here https://www.integrityrehab.net/contact-us.html to contact one of our occupational therapists about an assessment and customized plan to help make everyday activities easier.


[1] E. Carmeli, H. Patish, R. Coleman. The Aging Hand. The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, Vol 58. (2). February 2003. Pages N146-M152. doi:10.1093/geronb/gbz146.

[2] Williamson E, McConkey C, Heine P, et al. Hand exercises for patients with rheumatoid arthritis: an extended follow-up of the SARAH randomised controlled trial. BMJ Open 2017; 7 :e013121. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-013121

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