Fistula Arm Exercises

Improve your access outcome by exercising your fistula arm before and after placement. Prior to dialysis, the exercises will increase vein size and will build up the vein after to provide muscle tone for vein stability and easier needle placement. Ask your doctor which arm will be used for your access. This is your “Access Arm.”


  • Exercise access arm as directed.
  • Wash the site with antibacterial soap each day.
  • Check blood flow daily by feeling for a vibration (thrill). If you don’t feel this, contact your physician.
  • Avoid injury, do not scratch or pick at site scabs.
  • No blood pressures or blood draw in your access arm prior to or after fistula surgery.


  • Color changes at the site after healing
  • Warm to touch Drainage at the incision site
  • Pain at the site or up arm More than normal swelling in hand.
  • If your access is not “maturing,” ask your physician if a referral to the Vascular Center is needed for a maturation visit.


For Upper & Lower Arm Fistulas

Grip a soft ball or rolled cloth in fistula hand, allow your arm to hang down beside your body, squeeze and release the ball in your hand for 5 minutes. Repeat 3-4 times a day.


Hold a soft ball or rolled cloth in fistula hand, using non-fistula hand, apply pressure to your fistula arm below your elbow. Squeeze ball and count to 5, then release. Repeat for 1-2 minutes.


For Upper Arm Fistula

Hold 2-5 lb. weight in your hand, raise and lower your hand and
bend your elbow, repeat for 1 minute 3-5 times a day.