“Arthritis is inflammation of one or more of your joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age.”  – Mayo Clinic

Arthritis can be a very painful ailment, not to mention frustrating. In addition to persistent pain, those stricken with arthritis content with stiffness, swelling and decreased mobility.

One of the more prevalent types of the ailment is osteoarthritis, which causes the bones cartilage to deteriorate, causing more friction (and pain) when certain bones of the body are moved. This pain occurs because cartilage serves as a sort of “lubricant” between bones, and without it, bone grinds on bone.

While arthritis is without a medical “cure,” certain actions can be taken to help alleviate the symptoms of pain. One such action is to exercise the hands, one of the most common areas of arthritic pain.

Here are 7 easy exercises that can help relieve arthritis pain:

1. Finger bending

Begin by holding the hand up straight (in a “handshake” position). While keeping other fingers straight, slowly bend the thumb towards the palm until it touches. Hold this position for five to 10 seconds and that slowly straighten the thumb to its original position. Repeat this process with each finger and then switch hands.

2. Make a fist

Start in the same position as the first exercise, with the hand in the “handshake” position (note: it is not necessary to extend the arm). Curl the hand slowly in a fist while keeping the thumb in the outside of the hand. This is a gentle exercise, so resist unnecessarily squeezing the hand. After one fist is formed, open the hand to the original position. Repeat this process 10 times with each hand.

3. The “O” exercise

Begin with the hand held straight up, as if giving someone a high-five. Spread apart the fingers and slowly curve them in until they touch. What results should look like an “o-like” shape or a claw. Hold this position for five to 10 seconds and then straighten. This exercise should be performed a few times a day on each hand, and works best when feelings of stiffness occur in the hands.

4. Thumb Stretching

Similar to exercises one and two, begin the thumb stretching exercise in a handshake position. The difference is that the thumb isn’t to be bent in. Instead, the goal is to touch the base of the pinky finger. It is not necessary to touch the base, obviously, but to stretch it as far as possible. When extended to capacity, hold the position for five seconds and release slowly. Repeat the exercise 10 times for each hand.

5. Finger Lifts

Position one hand flat, fingers spread on an even surface, such as a table. While holding each finger flat against the even surface, slowly life the thumb as high as possible and hold for five seconds. Lower the thumb and repeat the process for each finger until a good stretching sensation is felt. Switch hands.

6. Wrist Stretching

Start by holding one arm straight out, with the wrists loosened, palm inwards and hanging down; using the other hand, reach around and press the back of the loose hand towards the body. Continue applying this pressure until a stretching sensation if the wrist and arm is felt. Hold this position for about five seconds and then release. Repeat this process 10 times with the other hand.

7. Table Bending

Once again beginning in the handshake position, rest the side of the hand on a flat surface with the thumb pointing upwards. Continue to keep the thumb pointing as straight up as possible while gently folding the fingers inward, resulting in thumbs up pose. Hold this position for about five seconds and then straighten each finger, repeating the process ten times for each hand. Ensure that the exercise done properly by keeping the hand level, which best done the assistance of a table or another hard, flat surface.

An important thing to remember is that the point of each exercise is to help alleviate pain, not exacerbate it. Make sure that each movement is done with care, stopping the exercise if pain worsens.