12 Tips To Relieve Arthritis Pain In Your Hands

12 Tips to Relieve Arthritis Pain in Your Hands

Arthritis sufferers know the nastiness of finger, hand and wrist pain. It’s no fun.  

Psoriatic arthritis settled into my hands after the birth of my first child and while it’s controlled now and my hands are stable, the damage makes simple daily tasks into challenges – buttoning, zipping, turning doorknobs, writing with a pen, cooking, seatbelts and buckles (buckling my child into his car seat was always impossible), clicking in my own seatbelt, brushing hair and teeth; opening jars, caps and bottles — while these tasks are easier without active inflammation, they are still challenging.  

If you feel me, if your reality is painful, frustrating and incredibly humbling too, then stick with me as we work through 12 things that can make your life with arthritic hands much easier.

Medical options for arthritis exist but are not always effective long term and also come with side effects that may not thrill you. While pain meds, anti-inflammatories, steroids, biologics and even surgery are all things to discuss with your doctor, there are alternatives to explore. 

I’ve split these 12 methods up into 6 exercises and 6 remedies. Give them a try and post your experiences or add your favorite tips in the comments below!


These 6 hand and wrist exercises are easy, anytime/anywhere ways to help improve joint flexibility, function and range of motion. Do them DAILY and be diligent – joints that move stay in the groove.

  1. Palm Stretch and Finger Touch. With your palm facing up and your hand relaxed, spread out your fingers and stretch them away from the palm. Starting with your pointer finger, try some touches – touch the tip of your thumb to your pointer, then middle, ring finger and pinky. You can mirror this on both hands or start with one hand and continue with the other.
  2. Open And Close. Begin this exercise with your palms up. Gently stretch your fingers out and away from your palm and then bring your fingers together and in towards the palm. Depending on your flexibility, this may make a fist. If your fingers are not able to bend into a fist, your goal is simply to stretch out/open and squeeze in. If that’s too much, start with the stretch out and release; your fingers should naturally come in a bit.
  3. Thumbs Up! Face both palms up and on your lap or resting on a pillow. Start by stretching your thumbs out and then work to get them over toward the pinky. As you make this move, it’s okay for the pinky to squeeze in towards the thumb. Your goal is to stretch each thumb, hold for a moment, release and repeat 5 times.
  4. Flat Raises. Start with your palms down, flat on a table in front of you. Your focus is going to be on one finger at a time, so keep all other fingers flat against the table. Beginning with your thumbs, lift up off the table, hold for a breath and release. Move on to your pointers, middles, rings and pinky’s. Remember, lift, hold, release. Repeat with each finger one or two more times.
  5. Have A Ball. Find a palm size ball, orange or even rolled up sock. Hold it in the palm of your hand and work to squeeze your fingers up around it. Try to curl your hand up toward your elbow to get in a bit of wrist stretching too! Repeat this a few times and then switch to your other hand. Try different sizes, weights and textures. Tip: If your hands lack the strength to hold the item or if you want a variation, try setting the item on a table in front of you. Set your palm on top of the ball and allow your fingers to settle over it. From this position, work to grip and even lift the ball off the table a bit by raising your wrist.
  6. Paint Your Palm. Place your hands together, palm to palm. For comfort, rest your elbows on a table or pillow. Keep your left hand still while sliding your right hand down the fingers, palm and wrist of your left hand. When you get to the wrist, imagine your right hand is a paintbrush and pivot so that the top of your right-hand contacts your left wrist.  Your fingers are the bristles, so use them to paint back up your palm until they meet the tips of the fingers on your left hand. Switch to your downstroke, palm to palm, left hand steady and fingers of your right-hand painting down; pivot and allow the right wrist to lead your right hand back up. Repeat 5 times and switch hands.


These 6 remedies combat pain and inflammation from different angles. Because no two bodies are alike, it’s worth it to try coming at your arthritis in a variety of ways. Check with your doctor before trying anything, especially if you take medication.  

  1. Juice. These 2 juice blends have been part of my anti-inflammatory tool kit for years! In moderation, juicing can be a wonderful way to speed the absorption of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Because juice lacks fiber, it can spike blood sugar – so be mindful of that if blood sugar balance is an issue for you. Using a smaller amount and/or having your juice with a fiber-rich snack can help reduce the glycemic impact.

    Cherry Bomb: Mix 16 ounces of unsweetened, pure Tart Cherry Juice with 16 ounces of fresh brewed, unsweetened Green Tea. Drink 1 cup of this throughout the day and sneak in another 5-6 cups of fresh water to meet your hydration needs while combating pain and inflammation. Store in the fridge and use within a week.

    Clean Green Juice: If you have a juicer, juice 4 stalks of celery, 2 cucumbers and 1 green apple. This enzyme juice packs in vitamins A and C as well as the minerals calcium, iodine, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, silicon and sodium. There are 2 components in celery that are particularly helpful for inflammation: polyacetylene and luteolin. Luteolin prevents activation of a pathway in the brain that turns on inflammation; it also inhibits production of excess TNF-alpha (which is a direct cause of inflammation!).

  2. Ginger. Ginger has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce arthritis pain and inflammation. While it’s easy to add fresh or powdered ginger to your food, it’s even easier to just make ginger tea! I buy a big “hand” of ginger, peel it and make a liter or 2 of this ginger tea. It is lovely hot or cold. For your morning cup, add a tablespoon of raw honey and half a teaspoon of cinnamon to your cup for added benefits and flavor! Since cinnamon is a bit stimulating, steer clear of it at night to ensure you get good sleep.To make a batch of ginger tea: Peel and slice some ginger. You want about 1 inch of ginger per cup of water. Simmer the water and sliced ginger for 10 minutes. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes, strain and drink a cup two or three times a day until you get relief.
  3. Turmeric. This antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powerhouse is a must-try. Easily incorporate turmeric into your diet by adding dried or fresh turmeric to soups or smoothies.  My favorite bedtime golden milk recipe can be found here.
  4. Epsom Salt. Epsom salt is rich in magnesium and known to help reduce the inflammation, pain and stiffness from arthritis and associated nerve pain as well. Magnesium is also important for bone mineralization, which is a factor in arthritis.My go-to use: Mix two cups of Epsom salt in warm bath water. Soak your hands in the solution for 20 to 30 minutes. Do this daily for acute pain and as needed once pain subsides.
  5. Icy Hot. Pain is such an individual thing that it’s worth trying a variety of methods to see what brings relief. Ice and heat are both known for helping with comfort and inflammation.
    Heat and cold treatment ideas:

    1. Take a warm shower or bath to ease stiffness.
    2. Try a warm paraffin wax treatment for sore hand and foot joints (available at many drugstores).
    3. Soak in a warm whirlpool.
    4. Use a heating pad, hot water bottle or microwavable corn-bag (protect skin with a cloth buffer) for up to 20 minutes at a time. Air-activated heat packs are great for heat treatment on-the-go.
    5. Check out Infrared Light Therapy wands for spot treatment of joints or see if you can schedule a session in a Full Spectrum Infrared Sauna for overall pain relief.
      I use a Sunlighten mPulse sauna daily — this is hands-down the best investment I’ve made for my overall health, but specifically for my arthritis! 
    6. Try a photo biomodulation session.
    7. Wrap a bag of ice or frozen peas in a towel so you protect your skin; apply to painful areas up to 20 minutes at a time.
    8. Try a store-bought gel pack. These chill in the freezer in a matter of hours, are flexible and easy to mold around sore joints and last indefinitely.
    9. Opt for an ice bath. Add cold water and ice to a container large enough to submerge your hand. Have a nice fluffy towel nearby. Dip your hand or painful joints into the ice bath for 30-60 seconds, then remove and wrap in the towel. You can repeat this a few times. Use your best judgment so you don’t overexpose your skin to the cold. The Wim Hof method has gained popularity in the last few years as well – this is a whole body cryo experience where you submerge into an ice bath; one benefit is supposedly to help stimulate the immune system.
    10. Try cryotherapy in a full body cryo chamber or with a targeted cryo wand. This is a dry cold and tends to be easier to tolerate than ice water. The benefits for reducing inflammation and controlling pain can be profound.
  6. Castor Oil. The pain-relieving properties of castor oil can be a huge benefit for arthritic hands!
    The easiest way to try castor oil is to rub a tablespoon or two into your fingers and joints on one hand. Once you’ve worked it in, wrap that hand in a soft flannel cloth or clean towel. Castor oil is thick and messy, so consider setting aside a specific towel that you can reuse for this purpose only. Gentle heat can help the castor oil penetrate the skin while also providing comfort and relief. To try this, you can set a heating pad, warm corn-bag or hot water bottle on the table in front of you or on your lap and then rest your wrapped hand on top. After 10-15 minutes, switch hands. You can simply rub the oil into your skin and wipe off any excess with the cloth.

    This is a great hexane free castor oil: https://amzn.to/3p1FcxO

    Pregnancy note: DO NOT use castor oil without consulting first with your OB/GYN or midwife!

I hope that you find something among these 12 Tips to Relieve Arthritis Pain in Your Hands that helps you!


Eat Blueberries to Preserve Brain Health

There’s a new research study suggesting you can eat blueberries to preserve brain health.

Participating were 30 subjects between 50 and 65 years old at increased risk of dementia. Researchers did cognitive testing on the subjects and divided them into two groups.

  • One group ate a packet of powdered blueberries every day. This was equivalent to a half cup of fresh blueberries every day.
  • The second group got a placebo powder with the same color and flavor but no nutritional value.

After 12 weeks, repeat cognitive testing showed the blueberry powder group performed better than the placebo group.

Let’s look at the results of the study and why you may want to eat blueberries to preserve brain health

The main conclusions:

  1. eating blueberries gives neurocognitive benefits in middle-aged individuals with insulin resistance and elevated risk for dementia. Ongoing intake can help mitigate deficiencies and protect against neurocognitive decline.
  2. possible benefits for hyperinsulinemia and mitochondrial function. These are key to neurodegeneration.

Study funding came from the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. So you might be wondering if there was bias? Good news: researchers had no connection to or financial interest in the blueberry industry. The Blueberry Council “had no role in the design of the study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript, or in the decision to publish the results.” Also, this study passed a peer review process.

Is it the blueberries or is it the anthocyanins?

The study notes the anthocyanin content of the blueberries as the likely cause of the brain benefits. Besides blueberries, anthocyanins are found in other berries, red cabbage, plums, onions, black and red rice, eggplant, grapes, and red wine. And these are linked to a wide range of health benefits from improved lung and brain function to reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.

The take-away: try eating 1/2-1 cup of fresh blueberries daily. With 80 calories per cup, blueberries are packed with fiber, nutrients and antioxidants.

Here’s one of my favorite blueberry recipes:

Sarah’s Blueberry Chia Pudding

  • Blend 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries with 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk.
  • Pour blueberry milk into a mason jar or bowl.
  • Next, stir in 3 Tablespoons of chia seeds until they are evenly distributed.
  • Then, cover and let the mixture set for at least one hour or overnight.
  • Finally, top with fresh berries, nuts, seeds, coconut flakes as desired.


Want to dig deeper? Blueberries have other health benefits:

This study shows that the anthocyanins equivalent to what is present in to 1- to 2-cups of blueberries per day can help lower your LDL or “bad” cholesterol (click here).

Spoonable Vegan Caramel (a recipe you’ll want to save)

As a Functional Nutritionist, you may be wondering why I’m sharing a recipe for sweets… for an amazing spoonable vegan caramel, in fact!

Everyday, I work with people who are trying to figure out what foods they can eat to support their health. What foods trigger symptoms? Which ones enhance energy and reduce pain? The relationship with food becomes challenging. It becomes confusing.

When you follow an anti-inflammatory diet or most any dietary approach, you may come to categorize foods as good and bad. The “food as fuel” mentality may feel like a mantra. Being mindful of what you eat is good practice, but there is always room for balance. Food is social. It is comfort and pleasure. Eating is sensual and tactile. Fuel alone, it is not… and buying into that is buying into imbalance and denying yourself the primal human experience and relationship with food. With the holiday season upon us and New Year’s a breath away, remember that it is normal to enjoy food. Even on the strictest diet, pleasure can be part of the plan.

This spoonable vegan caramel is a recipe you’ll want to save. It keeps in the fridge and freezes well so you can make a batch and enjoy it when you desire something sweet.


Spoonable Vegan Caramel

⅓ cup coconut sugar (light brown sugar can be substituted but is more processed)
½ cup pitted dates
½ cup unsweetened plain non-dairy creamer
¼ cup vegan butter (Forager is my favorite brand)*
¾ teaspoon salt

1. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine sugar, creamer, and butter. Whisk until combined and bring the mixture to a boil. Once sugar dissolves, reduce the heat to medium.

2. Simmer mixture for 7 minutes, whisk every 2 minutes. Once caramel is bubbling, check temperature with candy thermometer until it reaches between 225 to 230 degrees. Add salt.

3. Carefully transfer the sauce to a food processor or high-powered blender. Add the pitted dates one at a time and blend until smooth with desired consistency. You may not need all of the dates.

4. Scrape into a pyrex container or freezer safe mason jar. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.

*Alternative – substitute the vegan butter with sunflower seed butter, cashew butter or macadamia nut butter


5 Ways to Enjoy Your Caramel

There are a million ways to use this caramel sauce, but here are some of my favorites:

  1. Dip slices on fresh apple.
  2. Drizzle it over thick yogurt and granola.
  3. Stir a spoonful into a latte (Coffee, Dandy Blend and Chaga lattes all feel more decadent with this addition)!
  4. Mix equal portions caramel and unsweetened nut butter. Use this as a dip for fruit. The fat from the nut butter helps lower the glycemic impact.
  5. Use as a topping for raw vegan cheesecake filling. Make my favorite raw cheesecake by soaking 1 cup of raw cashews in boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain the cashews and blend them with ¼ cup water, ¼ cup plain unsweetened vegan yogurt, 10 drops plain liquid stevia, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and ⅛ teaspoon salt. Blend until smooth. Pour into cups or ramekins and chill in fridge or freezer for 30 minutes to firm up. Top with caramel and dust with cocoa powder or graham cracker crumbs (use gluten free vegan ones if you are gluten free!)

Great Gluten Free Dinner Rolls

Sometimes a good, carby, crusty roll is the perfect addition to a meal. For me, the Thanksgiving table is a place where dinner rolls are needed. If you need a good gluten free, dairy free and an egg-free option – try these great gluten free dinner rolls. They’re so good, you may find yourself enjoying them with breakfast or lunch too! Double the recipe (you’ll thank me!)


Great Gluten Free Dinner Rolls

  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar (I like coconut sugar)
  • approx. 1 cup brown rice flour or your favorite gluten free blend (add a little more if dough is too sticky)
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/4 cup potato starch (not potato flour)
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil, ghee or butter (based on your preference and any allergy needs)
  • 2 eggs OR 2 flax eggs (2 Tbsp flax meal combined with 6 Tbsp hot water)
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  1. Prepare a 12-cup muffin tin by lightly oiling each muffin cup.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the warm water, yeast and sugar. Stir until the yeast and sugar dissolve. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside for 10 minutes. The mixture should get foamy as the yeast activates.
  3. Place flour, starches, xanthan gum and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix with the paddle attachment.
  4. Whisk the oil, egg or flax egg and vinegar into the water/yeast  mixture. Then add this mixture to the stand mixer with the flour.
  5. Mix with the paddle attachment until the dough comes together and forms a sticky, soft texture.
  6. Use an ice cream scoop or spoon to portion the dough into each of the 12 muffin cups. Set the pan aside and allow the dough to double in size. If you use flax egg, the dough may take up to 45 minutes to rise.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375*
  8. Bake the rolls in the hot oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and crusty

Tasty 10-minute Meals That Are Healthy Too

Even if you’re a meal-planning pro, everyone has those days when being able to have a meal on the table in a snap is a relief.  Enter some tasty 10-minute meals that are healthy too!  When you see how easy and fast it can be to get healthy food on the table, you’ll understand why I feel like your fairy Godmother sprinkling the glitter of happiness and health your way!

Fresh, seasonal veg, canned beans, tomato sauce, herbs… wait til you see the magic that can happen with simple, fresh ingredients and a smidgeon of time.

Zucchini Pizzas with Veg and Greens: 

Zucchini PizzaPlace 1/4 inch thick slices of zucchini on a large baking sheet. Brush each lightly with olive oil. Layer with thinly sliced tomato.  Sprinkle with dairy-free cheese shreds (or your favorite mozzarella).  Scatter chopped veggies (onion, bell pepper, mushroom, olive). Broil 5-7 minutes or until top is hot, edges crispy, cheese melted. Remove from oven, top with arugula. Note: slice zucchini in rounds for pizza circles or lengthwise for a flatbread feel.  Alternatively, slice zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the seedy bits.  Then stuff the hollow with your pizza ingredients and broil to warm through.


Veg Skillet:

bean and veg skilletToss 2 cups pre-sliced mushrooms in a large skillet, season with salt, pepper, cumin, and oregano to taste. Add 28 oz. diced tomatoes (with their liquid) + 1 cup chunky Salsa + 1 can steamed lentils or black beans (rinsed, drained).  Stir in 10 oz. frozen corn + 1 cup sliced zucchini or bell pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 8 minutes. Serve with a generous amount of minced cilantro or parsley.  Note: Easily turn this into a delicious soup by adding a carton of organic broth — a cup of cooked quinoa and a handful of chopped spinach or kale makes this a hearty and nutritious soup.


Herbed Chickpea Salad:

chickpea salad on greensDrain 1 can (28 oz) garbanzo beans/chickpeas (reserve liquid for another use).  Toss the chickpeas in a large bowl with the juice of 1 lemon, salt and pepper to taste, 2 Tablespoons olive oil, 1 clove of garlic (peeled and minced).  Mix ingredients together and adjust seasoning if needed.  Serve on a bed of mixed greens.  Sprinkle the top with 2-3 Tablespoons of hemp seeds.  Here’s another version that is a favorite in my house!


Quick Fresh Rolls: 

fresh veg in chard leavesWash 1-2 leaves of purple or green cabbage or swiss chard (per serving).  Slice out the thick part of the stem if needed.  Mash the flesh of 1/2 an avocado per serving — season with salt, pepper, garlic, lemon or lime juice.  Lay out the cabbage leaves and spread some avo mash on each one.  Top with sliced baked tofu, tempeh or roasted chicken or salmon (or your favorite clean protein).  Add a slice of pickle or fresh cucumber and roll the contents up in the leaf.  Eat!  Note: prepared hummus can be used in place or mashed avocado or in addition to it!  Broccoli slaw mix is another great filler.

To make this meal without cabbage or chard leaves, try it with rice paper wrappers.  Quickly rehydrate one wrapper at a time in a shallow pan of warm water.  Remove promptly and lay the wet wrapper on a clean kitchen towel.  Fill per directions above and wrap up like a burrito or an egg roll.  Rice paper wrappers are shelf stable and make a great addition to any pantry for quick, healthy fresh rolls!


Noodle Bowl: 

noodle bowl with vegCook soba noodles in boiling water for 8 minutes — or soak thin rice noodles in hot water until pliable — drain and set aside.  Meantime, whisk together 2 Tablespoons each miso paste, lime juice, water, sriracha (optional). Put cooked noodles in serving bowls.  Add shredded carrots, sliced cucumber, grape tomatoes, snap peas.  Add cubes of cooked protein like tofu, tempeh, chicken, fish, beef, etc if desired. Top with a drizzle of the dressing and fresh minced cilantro, green onion, jalapeno or sprouts if desired.  Note: A little natural peanut/almond or sunflower butter added to the dressing can make for a delightful Thai inspired flavor.  Some minced ginger or ginger juice also tastes nice.


More tasty 10-minute meals that are healthy too… What is your go-to creation?  Comment below!