What Causes Arthritis Flare-ups in Your Hands?

It’s common for those with arthritis to report a connection between their symptoms and the weather. While results vary across the board, typically, people find their arthritis gets worse as the temperature drops and the air gets colder. However, the science is inconclusive on how exactly joint stiffness and pain relates to the weather.

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two main types of arthritis known to affect the hands. Currently, MSA has some great tips for how to relieve arthritis, but in order to better understand your pain, learn about other potential sources of arthritis flare-ups.

The Wrong Kind of Exercise

Movement is known to help warm up and loosen the joints, providing pain relief and decreasing tension. Yet the wrong kind of exercise can have the opposite effect, making your hands hurt more. High-impact activities that push yourself can often over-exasperate the joints and lead to flare-ups. Even certain sports, like tennis, might worsen osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis if the player grips the racket too hard or frequently tenses up during the game.

When exercising with arthritis, aim for low-impact activities like walking or swimming. These put less pressure on the joints while still allowing your body the benefits of frequent exercise.


Consciously or not, times of stress can make us tense up and lead to arthritic flare-ups. Regardless of your situation, incorporating gentle stretches into your daily routine can help relieve pressure on the joints. For best results, make sure your body has warmed-up before stretching. Before and after an activity, take the time to stretch your wrists and hands. Talk to your provider to learn what kinds of stretches are best for your body.


Increasingly, studies have found links between what we eat and inflammation in the body. Sugars and processed foods are common culprits of inflammation, but lesser-known sources include vegetable and soybean oil, gluten, corn, and meat and dairy. Instead, try adding fermented dairy products, spinach, orange vegetables, onions and garlic into your diet. Turmeric is also a popular anti-inflammatory spice recommended to be used with black pepper in order to best absorb its healthy properties.

Arthritic pain can be treated by over the counter medications. More advanced arthritis may be treated with prescription medication. Persistent pain can be treated by joint injection and a possible joint replacement procedure.

To better manage osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, get in touch with a hand therapist to develop a strategy to take on your pain. Contact our hand center in order to schedule an appointment and get to know our staff.