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Assistive Devices to Help Alleviate Arthritis Pain

Arthritis can be a painful and debilitating condition, one that makes your regular routine difficult because it affects your hand joints, along with other areas of your body. It can make even the simplest tasks difficult. A little help from some assistive devices — and learning better ways to move — can keep you independent. And help you get through your day with less pain.

There are tools that can make almost every activity in your day easier, whether you need to open tightly closed jars, get a better grip on your keys, or safely hold onto a handrail as you go up and down stairs.

When should you consider using assistive devices? It depends on the task and the stage of the disease. Early on, things are not stressful. But later, as the hand joint changes, people notice more problems and may require adaptive equipment.

Fortunately, there are many different assistive devices for arthritis that can help make tasks and activities less painful and easier. Here are ten of the most useful assistive devices for arthritis.

1. Button hook No need to give up button-down shirts with this handy little gadget. A tapered end slides through the buttonhole to grab the button and pull it through. This can be especially helpful first thing in the morning when fingers are stiff and uncooperative.

2. Doorknob grips If you are in a house with round doorknobs instead of lever handle doorknobs, simply getting out of your room can be a challenge. These slip-on doorknob grips are an affordable assistive device for arthritis without having to change all of the doorknobs in your house.

3. Can, bottle, and jar openers One of the biggest struggles of the day may be opening jars, bottles, and cans. These assistive devices vary between mounted and hand-held models that can open the most stubborn containers.

4. Cooking and eating utensils Arthritis can make time in the kitchen an exercise in misery. Choose knives, cutting boards, and utensils with wider or more ergonomically-designed handles for ease of use. The non-slip cutting boards make cutting and chopping safer.

5. Sitting, standing, and walking aids Mobility can be extremely impacted for those with arthritis in the lower extremities. Simply standing up from a seated position can be difficult. These assistive devices are designed to help people with arthritis move easily around their house. One of the traps of arthritis is that because movement is painful, many people move less. This decrease in movement leads to stiffer joints, which leads to more pain. By providing a simple assistive device to make moving around the house easier, joints loosen up and pain may decrease.

6. Assistive devices for driving Opening a car door, buckling a seatbelt, turning the car on: all of these can be very painful for someone suffering from arthritis in their hands. These assistive devices range from seatbelt helpers to swivels for getting in and out of the car. Maintaining mobility in this way means that an arthritis sufferer can still go for walks, get themselves to and from physical therapy, and visit with friends.

7. Gardening devices Being outside in nature is therapeutic and soothing, elevating mood and administering a daily dose of vitamin D. Some arthritis patients are unable to tend their plants. These adaptive devices and seating options make working outside more comfortable for the avid gardener. Raised beds are another way to adapt this activity for easier access.

8. Golfing gear If a person with arthritis has limited their tee time due to pain, there are special golf grips that may help. These grips are larger and have extra nubs and grippy material so that the golfer can use less strength. For arthritic hands, this can be a way to stay in the game.

9. Braces and orthotics While not glamorous or beautiful, braces and orthotics can provide support and compression that can help with pain in arthritic joints. Many of these braces are lightweight and easy to adjust with Velcro tabs. This makes application and removal easier and encourages their use when needed.

10. Technology Large format keyboards and wireless mice with cushioned pads can be very helpful for those who spend a lot of time on the computer.

For people with arthritis, the most difficult activities are those that involve resistance, weight, or pressure on the joints. A variety of aids, as well as changes you can make in how you move, can make it easier to accomplish daily tasks.

For more information or to request an appointment, please contact Dr. Patrick McDaid, M.D. at

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