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Health and Fitness

Don’t Lose Your Grip: Rheumatoid Arthritis and Grip Strength

Basic facts about handgrip strength

Grip strength refers to your holding capacity. It is defined as the amount of force you can put when grabbing a heavyweight. Generally, an occupational therapist or hand therapist measures your grip strength with their equipment. They perform various tests to measure your grip strength including equipment known as a hand dynamometer. The dynamometer comes with a gauge that records the amount of force you apply during the squeeze.

When an individual suffers from Rheumatoid arthritis, he can not bend his fingers as they lose their full range of motion (ROM). They experience difficulty while moving their fingers or holding any heavy object.

Does rheumatoid arthritis affect grip strength?

While rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune condition, it primarily affects the small joints of your hands, finger tendons, and wrist. It causes swelling, and pain in your wrist, thumbs, and fingers and your grasping ability will become poor as well. Patients with arthritis commonly face debilitating hand pain and stiffness which limit you to perform the essential daily job such as opening the lead of a container, carrying grocery bags, holding heavy loads, etc, and deteriorate your daily living.

How does arthritis mitigate your grasping ability?

Arthritis in hands alters the structural constitution of hands, wrist, and fingers. Arthritis in the thumb and fingers are very common in women because they put lots of stress on their hands to accomplish household chores. This arthritis finally affects your grip strength.

Our thumb is 50% responsible for our hand functionality but osteoarthritis in the thumb results in gripping and pinching becoming painful and patients go through significant disability.

Inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis causes inflammation followed by weakness in the grip. 

Eminent rheumatologist and the scientific director of arthritis research Canada said that osteoarthritis also causes inflammation in your hands, breakdown of joint cartilage. Arthritis alters grip functionality because swollen, painful hand joints are difficult to use.

After a certain age you come across the thumb, wrist, and finger pain, then you need medical attention. You should talk with a reliable orthopedic surgeon even if there are no external signs of arthritis including redness, swelling, and disfigurement. The arthritis pain and inflammation can be reduced at an initial level before it starts limiting your  strength and range of motion.

How can you improve your grip strength with rheumatoid arthritis?

Use grip strengthener

A grip strengthener is a tool specifically designed to strengthen your hand . You need to use it for a few minutes a day, then you can feel the difference. Thus hand therapists recommend grip strength to their hand rheumatoid arthritis patients

Use grip toys

Grip toys are the substitution of grip strengtheners with a bit more fun. You can use silicon stress balls, rubber bands, thick rings to squeeze, finger stretchers to stretch, squeeze, and twist. You can work with several different angles with this ball that targets small muscles and increases the range of motions.

If you feel immense pain after doing the above mentioned exercise, then consult with an occupational therapist or hand therapist. He will measure your condition and recommend the Best hand grip strengthener along with therapeutic exercise to improve the range of motion of your hands.


Akshay Sharma is a digital marketing enthusiast and has written many topics in the related field like health, fitness and lifestyle. You can reach out to him by @alexsharma111

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