Arthritis of the hand can be a source of great frustration. As swelling, pain, and stiffness worsen, tasks like tying a shoelace or buttoning a shirt, which once involved a few seconds, can now take a lot longer. Some tasks, such as unscrewing a tight-fitting lid or threading a needle, can be nearly impossible. "Hand arthritis is a common problem that comes with aging," says Jeffrey Lawton, M.D., a hand surgeon at Cleveland Clinic, "and it can be accelerated by hand-intensive hobbies and occupations." The good news is that joint-protection measures combined with hand exercises can improve grip strength and hand function.