Wrist Exercises for Arthritis


Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can cause pain in the wrist. Osteoarthritis damages the smooth articular cartilage that covers the bones. Wrist pain is caused by the friction of the bare bones rubbing against each other. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease that begins in the smaller joints, such as those found in the hand and wrist. Because rheumatoid arthritis is usually symmetrical, it will usually affect both wrists. Wrist exercise can't cure arthritis, but it may alleviate the symptoms while improving circulation and range of motion. Some exercises may stimulate the flow of synovial fluid, which eases joint movement.

Wrist Circles

Rest your wrist against a flat surface, and allow your hand to hang off the edge. Perform five clockwise and five counter-clockwise hand circles of the wrist. Make sure to initiate the movement from your wrist; not your fingers. Repeat on the other side.

Windshield Wipers

Rest your hands in the same position used for the wrist circles. Imagine that your hands are windshield wipers, and swivel them from side to side. Perform 12 repetitions, or six to each side.


Begin with your wrists against a flat surface, with your palms facing the floor. Rotate your wrists so that your palms face the ceiling, and then rotate them back so that they face the floor. Perform 10 repetitions.

Flex and Extend

Rest one hand against a flat surface. Flex your wrist, so that your fingers point toward the ceiling. You can use the other hand to assist the stretch. Hold the stretch for about 20 seconds, and then extend your wrist so that your fingers point toward the floor. Once again, use your other hand to increase the stretch. Hold for at least 20 seconds, and then repeat the sequence on the other hand.

Wrist Strengthener

Place your hands together as if in a "prayer" position. Press your left hand against your right, and try to bend your right wrist back. Resist the movement with your right hand. Repeat in the opposite direction.

Tennis Ball Circles

Hold a tennis ball with one hand. Place the ball against the wall. Perform five clockwise and five counter-clockwise circles in each direction, and then switch to the other hand. You can also practice gripping the ball and then relaxing your hand to gain wrist, forearm and hand strength.

Chinese Hand Balls

Chinese hand balls are small, metal balls designed to increase manual dexterity. Hold two balls in one hand, keeping your forearm parallel to the floor. Use your fingers to move the balls around your palm. Practice this for about 1 minute.

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