CUH NHS 75th birthday logo

Hand therapy active finger exercises

Patient information A-Z

Who is the leaflet for? What is its aim?

This leaflet is for patients suffering a hand injury. The aim of the leaflet is to provide information on recovery and exercises.

Following an injury to your hand, you may experience some swelling and stiffness of the fingers. This is very normal and over time these should improve. When a finger is injured sometimes soft tissue (tendons, ligaments and muscle) can also be involved, this can make recovery slower. Also swelling (oedema) can restrict movement of a joint, making the finger stiff.

The following exercises will help to reduce stiffness and increase finger movement. When completing them, you may experience tightness or a pulling sensation, but this is normal. If you experience a sharp pain, reduce the intensity of the exercises or stop for a couple of days to allow the pain to subside.

The exercises

Sit comfortably with your elbow on a table surface and your hand in the air.

Hand therapy exercise - Stabilising and bending the injured finger

With your unaffected hand, hold and stabilise the injured or stiff finger at the middle joint - this will block the middle joint from bending. Allow the movement to occur at the fingertip only. Bend and straighten the tip of the finger. Complete this slowly, holding the bend for a count of five seconds.

______ repetitions

______ times per day

With your unaffected hand, hold and stabilise the injured or stiff finger at the large knuckle. Bend and straighten the middle joint of the finger.

With your unaffected hand, hold and stabilise the injured or stiff finger at the large knuckle. Bend and straighten the middle joint of the finger. If the top joint bends, don’t worry, this is normal. Complete this slowly, holding the bend for a count of five seconds.

______ repetitions

______ times per day

Start with your fingers straight, bend at the large knuckles keeping the top joints of your fingers as straight as you can.

Start with your fingers straight, bend at the large knuckles keeping the top joints of your fingers as straight as you can. Complete this slowly, holding the bend for a count of five seconds then straighten your fingers.

______ repetitions

______ times per day

Keeping the large knuckles and wrist straight, bend and straighten the top and middle joints of the fingers..

Keeping the large knuckles and wrist straight, bend and straighten the top and middle joints of the fingers. Complete this slowly, holding the bend for a count of five seconds.

______ repetitions

______ times per day

Hand therapy exercise - Making a fist then gently opening and straightening the fingers

Make a fist, being sure each joint bends as much as possible. Complete this slowly, holding the bend for a count of five seconds, then gently open your fingers to straighten them.

______ repetitions

______ times per day

Hand therapy exercise - Spreading the fingers

Spread fingers wide apart and bring them together. Complete this exercise slowly, holding your fingers apart for the count of five seconds then close together.

______ repetitions

______ times per day

Hand therapy exercise - Keeping big knuckles bent whilst placing other hand on top.

With your palm facing towards you, keep your big knuckles bent and place your other hand on top while you straighten out the middle and top joints of the fingers as straight as you can. Complete this slowly, holding the bend for a count of five seconds.

______ repetitions

______ times per day

Contacts and further information

The occupational therapy department is located in clinic 30 in the Addenbrooke’s Treatment Centre (ATC). The occupational therapy reception telephone number: 01223 216769.

References and sources of evidence

LaStayo P, Winter K, Hardy M (2003) Bone healing, fracture management and current concepts related to the hand. Journal of Hand Therapy, (16), 81-93.

Mackin EJ, Callahan AD, Skirven TM, Schneider LH, Osterman AL (2002) Rehabilitation of the Hand and Upper Extremity.5th Edn. Fractures and joint injuries of the hand.

Privacy and dignity

Same sex bays and bathrooms are offered in all wards except critical care and theatre recovery areas where the use of high-tech equipment and/or specialist one to one care is required.

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998. www.cuh.nhs.uk/contact-us/accessible-information/

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge
CB2 0QQ

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151
https://www.cuh.nhs.uk/contact-us/contact-enquiries/