Are you looking for a natural, prescription-free method for arthritis pain relief in your hands?
When done correctly, hand massages can provide an immense amount of pain relief for arthritic joints and other hand pain.
The following are the best hand massage techniques for arthritis –
- Bend and Release – good for poor dexterity or severe arthritis pain
- Six-Minute Massage – good for low to moderate arthritis pain
- Hand Massage Machine – best all-around hand massage for arthritis
- Finger Cup – good for chronic arthritis pain
- Slow Roll – good for arthritis pain flare-ups
We’ve split the techniques into self-massage and partner assisted. Check out how to do each technique below!
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Technique #1 – Bend and Release (Good for Poor Dexterity or Severe Arthritis Pain)
This choice is a great option if your pain is severe or your mobility is very limited from your arthritis symptoms.
Make sure, while you’re doing these exercises, that you don’t push yourself too far and you gradually build up to higher intensities over the coming weeks.
This exercise is a simple as it sounds. Begin by –
- Holding your hand straight out with all your fingers straight.
- Bring your fingers in and form a fist, wrapping your thumb on the outside of your fingers.
- It’s important to firm your fist without squeezing.
Open your hand back up to the starting position and repeat this process anywhere from 8 to 12 times.
To begin this exercise you will –
- Place your hand straight out with your palm facing up towards you.
- Similar to the fist squeeze, slowly bend your fingers individually into your palm, starting with your forefinger.
- Once fully bent, hold that position for two seconds and slowly release until it’s fully straight again.
- When you’ve done this with all four fingers, bend your thumb in towards the base of your fingers.
- Hold for two seconds and slowly release back until your thumb is straight.
Repeat the sequence as often as you need, remembering to not push yourself too far. Stop if you feel pain.
This exercise is great if you have arthritis pain in the bottom knuckles of your fingers. To begin, place your hand flat on a hard surface, like a table, with your palm down.
Starting with your forefinger –
- Lift your finger off the table as far as you’re able and hold for 2 seconds.
- Slowly lower your finger back to the table.
- Systematically work through your fingers and thumb.
You’ll likely notice that this exercise will cause moderate discomfort the first few days you do it. Limit the frequency you do this until you’ve built up some dexterity and flexibility in those joints.
Technique #2 – Six-Minute Massage (Good for Low to Moderate Arthritis Pain)
This massage is a great option if you have arthritis pain that tends to only be in one hand. To properly give yourself this massage, you will need to be able to use your other hand to work your hand with arthritis.
It’s important to remember while doing this massage, that pain is not good.
While you likely will feel some discomfort, limit your intensity and duration if you are feeling pain while doing this.
To begin –
- Place your hand out as if you were going to give somebody a handshake.
- With the other hand, start down at the base of your hand by your wrist and alternate between gripping the top and bottom of your hand.
- As you’re gripping your hand, give a gentle squeeze (called a compression).
- This shouldn’t hurt as you’re doing this.
- Work your way from your wrist out to the tips of your fingers.
Back Hand Massage
Once you reach the end of your hand, put your hand facing down. With the other hand –
- Use three fingers to work in between the bones of the back of your hand.
- Aim to work the muscles between your finger bones.
- Do some stationary circles on the knuckles at the base of the fingers.
- Work slowly as you hit all four fingers.
Work Your Knuckles
- Work your way up to the middle knuckle on each finger, pinching between your forefinger and thumb.
- Rock the knuckle side to side gently.
- Slide out to the final knuckle at the end of your finger, rocking in the same side-to-side motion.
- Grab all four fingers facing out and, with your hand, rock the knuckles back and forth all together.
There are several pain trigger points that are also good to focus on, but it’s better explained by showing a video of where to push.
Check out this video on how to do this massage below –
Technique #3 – Hand Massage Machine (Best All-Around Hand Massage for Arthritis)
A hand massager is a great choice if you don’t have the strength to do the six-minute massage above.
There are machines out there that can perform similar massages on your hands, without the need of you having to do it to yourself.
The hand massager that we found to be best at giving hand massages for arthritis is the Lunix Cordless Electric Hand Massager (available at Amazon).
Why We Like It
This massager is 100% adjustable, with different intensity settings based on your specific needs.
It’s important to remember that you do not want to feel pain during your massage.
Before using, make sure that the massager is fully charged. Place your hand inside the opening and choose the specific massage technique that feels best for your hand.
Relaxing Heat Feature
Another nice feature of the Lunix Cordless Massager is that you can choose to use heat and vibration during the massage.
Most customers using this massager for arthritis symptoms found that the heat feature provides quick relief from their pain.
Don’t Overdo It
It’s important not to overdo it, but as long as you don’t feel pain during the massage you should be able to use this hand massager as often as you want.
Getting a great arthritis hand massage with the Lunix Cordless Massager is as easy as pressing a button.
Massage Techniques for Partners/Caregivers
If you are a partner or caregiver that is wanting to do a hand massage for their partner or patient, these two massage techniques are very effective.
Technique #4 – Finger Cup (Good for Chronic Arthritis Pain)
To begin, you will want to warm up your patient’s hand by giving them some compressions on their hand (more details on compressions are found in technique #2 above).
The compressions are, essentially, light squeezes on the inside and outside of their hand working from the wrist out to the base of the fingers.
Performing the Massage
Next, you want to –
- Turn their hand so that their palm is facing up and their fingertips are towards you.
- Place your pinky between their middle finger and forefinger.
- Place your two middle fingers between their forefinger and thumb.
- Place your forefinger on the outside of their thumb.
With your other hand, interlace your fingers with theirs, similar to how you did with your other hand. It’s a little confusing at first, but here’s a video showing how to do it and describing the massage technique.
- Slowly work from the base of their wrist throughout their palm, paying special attention to the muscles between the finger bones.
- Work slowly and methodically through their entire hand, being extra careful with the intensity and pressure you’re putting on their hand.
- It’s important to follow the reaction of your patient as you’re doing this, allowing them to guide you and tell you if it hurts.
Once you have finished massaging the palm –
- Work your way through each finger, starting at the base and working towards the tip.
- Use both of your thumbs to work the joints side to side and back and forth.
- Spend 5 to 10 seconds at each knuckle and working your way back through.
Once finished with the fingers, flip their hand around and work in the webbing and muscles between the finger bones on the back of the hand.
This area may be a little sensitive, so use caution as to not cause injury.
Technique #5 – Slow Roll (Good for Arthritis Pain Flare-Ups)
This massage technique is a lot less advanced and is primarily meant for patients with light to moderate arthritis pain.
The focus of this technique is going to be the affected joints in areas where your patient’s having pain.
To begin, work their hand in between your hands, giving light compressions and squeezes to help warm up the the muscles and tendons in the hand.
On the joints causing issues –
- Start slowly rolling your thumb in a circle around the joint.
- Do this for 5 to 10 seconds and work your thumb towards the center of the circle.
- The end of the motion should be your thumb in place, lightly rocking back and forth.
It’s important to work all sides of the affected joints, so make sure to twist and move their hand around so you can get the top, back, and both sides.
Make sure that your intensity matches the comfort level of your patient, so that you are not causing harm or damage.
Allow them to guide you and tell you what feels good and what hurts.
This is meant to give quick, temporary relief. If you’re looking for something to give longer-term results, consider investing in the Lunix Cordless Electric Hand Massager (see at Amazon) as discussed above.
As you can see, there are many massage techniques you can use to provide relief from your arthritis pain.
It’s important to remember that the saying “no pain, no gain” does not apply when giving yourself a hand massage for arthritis pain.
Read More – Also have arthritis in your feet? Check out our favorite heated foot baths here!
Massages that are too intense can cause more damage to the affected joints.
If you’d like to see a medical professional, we recommend scheduling an appointment with a certified massage therapist that is trained in giving hand massages for arthritis pain.
They will be able to tailor a program specifically to your needs.