Self-help arthritis devices


These tools can make life with arthritis a little easier.

If you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), self-help devices can make tasks easier on your joints and more efficient for you. These products, range from simple to elaborate, help keep joints in the best position for functioning, provide leverage when needed, and extend your range of motion. Simple arthritis self-help devices, such as jar openers, reachers (long-handled tools with a gripping mechanism) and easy-grip utensils can be purchased at many hardware, medical supply stores or pharmacies.

•    In the bedroom.

When dressing, zipper pulls and buttoning aids can help you fasten clothing. Or you can choose to wear clothing with Velcro fasteners, if available. A long-handled shoehorn extends your reach without bending.

•    In the kitchen.

In the kitchen, appliances such as electric can openers, food processors and mandolins (for slicing) make work easier. Reachers can be used to retrieve items stored high or low. Built-up handles and grips make utensils easier to grasp and put less stress on finger joints. Install a fixed jar opener or keep a rubber jar opener in the kitchen.

•    In the bathroom.

Tub bars and handrails provide additional stability and security when you are getting into and out of the bath or shower. These are a must if you have problems with balance. Tap levers or turners are available if your grip is weak. A raised toilet seat can make it easier to sit down and get up from the toilet.

•    In the office.

In the work environment, many devices and modifications are available, from chairs and work surfaces with adjustable-height to telephones with hands-free headsets. You may want to see an occupational therapist (OT) about arthritis self-help tools and devices for work or home environments. OT's can help you make changes and obtain the devices you need.

•    At play.

Leisure activities can still be enjoyable through the use of assistive arthritis devices, such as kneelers and light-weight hoses for gardening, “no-hands” frames for quilting or embroidery, and card holders and shufflers for card games.

•    In the car.

When driving, a wide key holder can make it much easier to turn on the ignition. When filling the tank at the petrol station, a petrol cap opener can help.