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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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Arthritis
June 2001

Q. I am a 42-year-old woman with arthritis in both my hands. In the mornings they tend to be very stiff so I can hardly bend them. I take Advil and glucosamine, which definitely helps with the pain. Are there any kinds of specific stretching exercises that would help with the stiffness? Now that it's winter, they seem to be stiff all day. Thank you.

A. Arthritis is a condition of the joints. Stretching usually helps muscles and ligaments that surround the joint. As such, I would not expect stretching per se to help the arthritis. On the other hand, arthritis does cause stiffness of the joints that leads you to use your muscles less often, and they can become painful also. A general stretching routine is usually beneficial, as it helps you maintain your activity.

I went to the Arthritis Foundationšs Web page and noted quite a bit of information on exercise and arthritis, especially exercise in warm water.

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