Thursday, December 31, 2015

Arthritis is one of the most frustrating things that people experience and can occur in all ages, though it happens more frequently in older adults. The hands are one of the most common places that arthritis occurs and that makes it very inconvenient and, often times, noticeable to others which can be embarrassing.

Arthritis stems from the loss of cartilage and cushioning of the joints. This causes pain, stiffness and inflammation in the joint area. The frustration gets worse when trying to perform simple tasks, such as lifting a coffee mug or a glass, becomes difficult.

There are many medications available that can offer some relief, but there are natural remedies that can help, such as applying some essential oils like frankincense or taking an epsom salt bath. This can help you avoid synthetic medications.

However, there may be an even better way to get some much needed relief from arthritic pain. There are many exercises that you can do, right at home, that can help reduce the stiffness. These exercises can help flex and ease the joints in the hand, can be performed anywhere and work especially well if done several times a day.

Try these today but make sure you do not push anything to the point of pain. Over time, you will likely become more flexible. Take it gradually. You do not have to perform all of these exercises every day, but choose 4-5 each time and mix it up to get more variety and benefit. Also, it is best to do the exercises on both hands, even if only one is affected.

 Exercises for Arthritis

Make a Fist

Start by holding one hand up straight with your elbow bent.

Slowly bend your hand into a fist keeping the thumb on the outside of the hand.

You can do this gently; squeezing your hand is not necessary.

Once the fist is formed, open your hand until the fingers are straight.

Repeat ten times; then switch to your other hand.

Finger Bends

Start by holding one hand up straight with your elbow bent.

Slowly bend your thumb down until it touches your palm while keeping the other fingers as straight as you can.

Hold the thumb there for 5 – 10 seconds, then slowly straighten it back up.

Repeat for each finger on each hand, then switch to the other hand.

Thumb Stretches

Start by holding one hand up straight with your elbow bent.

Bend the thumb while trying to reach the base of the pinky finger with the tip of your thumb.

Hold that position for a few seconds, then slowly release.

Repeat ten times on each hand.

The Claw

Start with your hand held up and straight, palm facing away from you with your fingers spread apart.

Slowly curve your fingers in until they touch the top of your palm, like a claw or hook.

Hold for 5 – 10 seconds and then straighten.

Table Bends

Start by holding one hand up straight with your elbow bent, resting the side of your hand on a flat surface so that your thumb is pointing upwards.

Keep the thumb pointing as straight up as you can while slowly folding your fingers inward. The result will be a “thumbs-up” pose.

Hold it for 5-10 seconds and then straighten.

Repeat ten times and then switch hands.

Finger Lifts

Place your hand flat on a table with the palm down and fingers spread.

While keeping your other fingers as flat as possible, slowly lift your thumb as high as you can.

Hold for 3 – 5 seconds and then lower.

Repeat for each finger, then switch hands.

Wrist Stretches

Begin by holding one arm out straight with the wrist loose and your palm facing inwards.

Reach around with your other hand and press against the back of the loose hand, slowly pushing it towards your body.

Push until you feel a stretch in your wrist and arm.

Hold for 5 – 8 seconds, then release.

Repeat ten times and switch sides.

Home Remedies for Arthritis

1. Ice Pack

Ice packs have long been known to help with inflammation and swelling, but ice can be helpful for arthritic hands too. If you don’t have an ice pack handy, you can use a sack of frozen vegetables or ice cubes in a resealable plastic freezer baggie. Place the ice pack on one or two joints at a time. Make sure to place a thin towel or cloth between the skin and the ice pack for protection. Remove it for 30 seconds to one minute then repeat. Do this for 15-20 minutes 2 – 3 times a day.

2. Frankincense Essential Oil

Frankincense essential oil can be useful in helping to prevent the breakdown of the cartilage tissue. Frankincense has been shown to significantly reduce levels of inflammation when regularly applied to affected joints and tendons. It is important to check with your doctor before using an essential oil and make sure you choose pure oils. Simply mix 2-3 drops of frankincense with olive or coconut oil and rub onto the affected area twice a day.

3. Tea

There are many teas available that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger, green tea, rosehips and even black tea, which is rich in quercetin, have anti-inflammatory effects. You can purchase teas at your local grocer or make your own. For ginger, boil a small piece of ginger in a cup of water for ten minutes and then strain. Have it 2 – 3 times per day.

4. Epsom salts

A common side effect of arthritis is bone demineralization. Epsom salts are a rich source of magnesium, which can help lessen nerve pain and promote bone mineralization. Simply mix two cups of epsom salt in warm bath water and then soak the affected areas for 20-30 minutes. Try this several times a week. Add 10-20 drops of pure frankincense essential oil to the bath for added benefits. You can also create this mixture in a bowl and just soak the hands. If you choose this method, you can use ½ cup of epsom salt and 2-3 drops of frankincense. However, just using the epsom salts alone work well too.

5. Turmeric

A turmeric beverage is one of the most amazing and delicious ways that can help your arthritis. Turmeric has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Just add a teaspoon of turmeric to a glass of hot almond milk or even water. If you need some sweetness, add a little honey and drink once a day.

6. Garlic

Because of the sulfur and selenium found in garlic, eating lots of garlic can help reduce inflammation, but if you are not a fan of garlic or its affects on your breath when eaten, try sauteing two chopped garlic cloves in two tablespoons of mustard or olive oil until soft. Turn off the heat and let it cool, then apply it to the affected joints and gently massage. Repeat twice daily leaving it on as long as you can before washing.

Be gentle with any new exercise. It is important that you always check with your doctor before performing any exercises or applying home remedies. If something feels uncomfortable or you notice a rash or allergic reaction, avoid it until you have talked to your doctor.

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