Woman opening a jar to illustrate MS and hand strength

MS and hand strength

I have noticed a deterioration in my hand strength which is making certain tasks more difficult for me. I am due to see a physiotherapist and an occupational therapist soon to see how they can help, however, can you offer any guidance on self-help support?

In addition to the help you are set to receive, you can help boost hand dexterity and strength using a variety of methods in the comfort of your home.

Firstly, you could try some simple hand warm-up exercises. These can be done as part of your morning routine to help you get started for the day and can help kick-start sensory and tactile awareness. Examples are rubbing your hands together, including covering your palms and the backs of your hands, the fingers of each hand grasping each other, then pulling in opposite directions, and the piano movement which involves placing palms face down on a flat surface then lifting each finger from the surface one at a time.

You could also try some basic exercises that are known to help maintain or boost hand strength. For example, finger aerobics are exercises that are designed to warm up your hands in anticipation of activity and can also help to build hand strength. Other activities such as Lego building, popping bubble wrap, squeezing playdough or soft balls can help. With the latter, practice squeezing using different types of grip, for example using the whole hand and then individual fingers, squeeze, hold for a few seconds, then release.

Cando Theraputty is used by NHS physiotherapists as a means of helping people build hand strength. It is a stretchy, silicon-based material, similar to playdough, which is used as part of an overall hand exercise regime.

Finally, there are a variety of hand and finger exerciser tools that are widely available which you may wish to try. From silicone hand resistance bands/finger stretchers to spring loaded hand/finger exercisers, each designed to accommodate different hand strengths, there may be a ready-made solution available that works for you.

We suggest that prior to starting any new type of hand exercise regime, you should speak to your physiotherapist or occupational therapist at your upcoming appointments to discuss and identify the right type of hand exercise and strengthening tools that would be suitable for you.