As humans, our hands are incredibly important. They provide us with dexterity in a range of tasks. From the simple - bringing food to the mouth, right up to the ultra complex - painting the ceiling of the sistine chapel. Our hands also allow us to transmit force from the rest of the body to objects - whether that's a bag of mulch in the garden or a heavy barbell like 90 year old Mr Stockinger:
With so many functions, it becomes immediately obvious to anyone when their hands aren’t working like they used to. One of the most common causes of hand pain and dysfunction is osteoarthritis (OA). This article will take a look at hand OA and what you can do about it.
What is hand osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a condition characterised by joint pain, swelling and stiffness and it can affect any of the joints in the body. The most common sites are the knees, hips and hands. OA was previously diagnosed radiographically, but what is far more important is your clinical presentation. This is because there are many people with radiographic (X-ray or MRI) findings of OA, without symptoms!
Osteoarthritis has been called a ‘wear and tear’ condition but this is inaccurate for a couple of reasons:
The causes of hand OA are complex and varied but include:
Hand OA is estimated to affect around 13% of men and 26% of women over 70, with the prevalence increasing after the age of 40.
How do you treat hand OA?
Like nearly every condition affecting the human body, hand OA benefits from exercise. We recommend meeting or exceeding the minimum physical activity guidelines:
In addition to generally getting enough physical activity and exercise, specific hand exercises can also be useful to:
Here are 3 exercises that you can perform every second day to improve your hand OA symptoms. You can complete these every second day.
So… if you are experiencing hand OA, make sure you give these exercises a try! If you want to become more active for both your hand and general health, check out our Free At-Home Workout as a starting point!