The saying goes, "idle hands are the devil's tools." And it's sort of true with arthritis: the more idle your hands are, the more devilish and painful inflammation can be.
Dealing with the potential of limited mobility due to advancing arthritis can be an intimidating thing. The worst is when pursuing our passions becomes more difficult because joints have become inflamed and painful.
Whether you've enjoyed playing piano all your life or you've finally decided to write the book you've always dreamt of, you don't have to let arthritis in your fingers stop you from doing what you truly love.
Some Quick Exercises
As is the case with all joints affected by arthritis, keeping your hands moving is important to their longevity. Here are some hand-stretching exercises you can do several times a day, whether you're waiting in line at the grocery store or watching TV.
- Make a Fist: Starting with your fingers straight out, slowly curl your fingers in to make a fist. Then, roll your hand around in a circle before extending your fingers back out. Do this 10 times to work your fingers and wrists simultaneously.
- Count to 10: With all your fingers in a fist, extend one finger and then another until all are extended. Then go in reverse, but be careful with what finger you start with—depending on the country you're in, you might unintentionally offend someone.
- Type a Sentence: While not as cool as the air guitar, the air keyboard can help prevent stiffness in your fingers. Imagine there's a keyboard in front of you and type out a few sentences. It doesn't matter which one—anything from Shakespeare to the headlines of a newspaper will work. If you're musically inclined, imaginary piano riffs work, too.
Try Cross Training
While you might not get around to your hobbies and passions as much as you'd like, there are some things you can do in the meantime to keep your hands busy while keeping your mind active, too.
- Play Some Games: Finding simple toys that use your hands are a great way to keep joints fluid, as well as give your brain a different kind of challenge. The simple games you played as a child can help your joints feel young again: Rubix cubes, Cat's Cradle, kendamas, and so on. If you're feeling really adventurous, give the grandkids' video games a shot.
- Get Silly (Putty): Yes, the stuff that you used to use to copy newspaper pages can help your arthritis. Stretching and snapping the pink goo provides good tension to improve hand strength, but more importantly... it's fun.
- Tie Some Knots: Boy Scout or not, using a simple length of rope and attempting to master a few dozen types of knots will keep both your hands and mind busy. Besides, you never know when a good old-fashioned lobster buoy hitch knot might come in handy.
Get Some Help
If you'd rather save your hand strength for something you want to do, rather than something you have to do, look for helpful devices to make routine things easier. Some examples might include:
- Jar openers
- Wide-handled toothbrushes
- Pen grips
- Clothes with zippers instead of buttons
Always look for ways to make routine things easier to avoid undue stress on your joints.