Arthritis is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It refers to the inflammation of the joints, which leads to pain, stiffness, and sometimes, difficulty performing everyday tasks. Arthritis can affect any joint in the body, including the hands, and can significantly impact one's ability to grip, hold, and handle objects.

Many people suffering from arthritis in their hands wonder if strengthening their grip would help alleviate their symptoms. While grip strength exercises can provide some benefits, it is important to understand the limitations and potential risks, particularly for those with arthritis.

Will strengthening my grip help arthritic hands?

Grip strength exercises

Grip strength exercises aim to improve the muscles and tendons responsible for gripping and holding. These exercises involve squeezing or holding a resistance object, such as a handgrip, a dumbbell, or a resistance band. While grip strength exercises can help improve grip strength and dexterity, it is unlikely that they will fully alleviate arthritis symptoms.

Benefits for arthritis sufferers

That said, there are some potential benefits to incorporating grip strength exercises into an arthritis treatment plan. According to the Arthritis Foundation, these exercises can help:

- Reduce pain: Exercise, in general, can help reduce joint pain and stiffness by improving blood flow, reducing inflammation, and increasing joint mobility.
- Improve hand function: Strengthening the muscles and tendons in the hands can help improve dexterity, grip, and ability to perform everyday tasks, such as opening jars or turning keys.
- Prevent further joint damage: Stronger muscles can provide more stability to the joints, reducing the risk of further damage.

Potential risks

While grip strength exercises can provide benefits, there are some potential risks to consider. According to Dr. David Felson, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Boston University School of Medicine, grip strength exercises can exacerbate existing arthritis symptoms and cause further damage if not done correctly.

For example, gripping too hard or performing exercises that put too much strain on the joints can cause pain and swelling. It is essential to work with a trained professional to develop a safe and effective exercise program personalized to your needs, taking into account your age, overall health, and severity of arthritis.

Alternative therapies

Grip strength exercises are not the only way to improve grip and hand function in people with arthritis. Other alternative therapies that may help include:

- Hand therapy: A specialized type of physical therapy, hand therapy aims to improve hand function, reduce pain, and prevent further damage. Treatment may include exercises, splints, and assistive devices.
- Heat and cold therapy: Applying heat or cold to the affected joints can help reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and improve mobility.
- Acupuncture: In some cases, acupuncture may help reduce pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
- Assistive devices: Depending on the severity of arthritis symptoms, assistive devices, such as grip aids, splints, or braces, may help improve hand function and reduce pain.

Over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs may also provide relief from arthritis symptoms. However, it is essential to speak with a healthcare professional to determine the best treatment plan for your condition.


In conclusion, strengthening your grip through exercises can provide some benefits for people with arthritis. However, these exercises should be part of a comprehensive arthritis treatment plan tailored to your needs and taking into account any potential risks.

Remember to work with a trained professional to develop an exercise program that is safe, effective, and personalized for your condition. Alternative therapies, such as hand therapy and assistive devices, may also be beneficial in improving hand function and reducing pain.

Finally, remember that every case of arthritis is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. Speak with your healthcare professional to determine the best approach to managing your arthritis symptoms and improving your quality of life.

June 26, 2023

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