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Top 10 Adaptive Products To Help With Arthritis - Part 1


Q. Can “knick knacks” really make my arthritic hands feel better?

A. Yes and no. Knick knacks or more formally, adaptive devices or equipment, reduce pain if they decrease the amount of force you use when opening jars, hold a pen or comb your hair. Equipment will not cure your arthritis but can help lessen the progression and make doing daily activities less painful and less stressful on an affected joint.

Q. Which equipment works the best for people with arthritis?

A. As a practicing occupational therapist I spent a good deal of time choosing the most appropriate equipment for my patients and showing them how to use it. In general, the equipment I liked the best was usually the simplest and often things you already have in your home.

The more “stuff” you have, the less you will tend to use so I like to keep it simple and to a minimum. There are some great products available that really make a difference when your hands are weak or in pain. I have a top 10 list of products that make living with arthritis easier. The top 5 are shown below. The next 5 will be in a future blog. So here goes my list of the TOP 5 adaptive products for arthritis:

  1. Self-opening loop scissors

                                          Loop Scissors
         (image of  Loop Scissors courtesy of Sammons Preston, a division of Patterson Medical, Inc.)

With looped scissors you do not need to try fitting sore or enlarged fingers in two small handle holes. The self-opening scissors require about 1/2 the amount of strength to open than do regular scissors. Mine stay in my kitchen utensil organizer so they are readily at hand. They won’t cut a chicken but they are great at cutting coupons, any paper, tape or string.

  1. A damp towel

                                damp towel to make work in the kitchen easier with arthritis in your hands

                            (image of terry cloth towels courtesy of North Coast Medical, Inc.)

Everybody has a towel and most every kitchen or bathroom has a damp towel. Placing bowls or cups on a damp towel keeps them from moving when you are using two hands to stir a bowl or pour from a pot. A damp towel helps you grip a jar to open it or to pour from. A damp towel is a good resting spot for a warm cookie sheet when you are trying to remove stuck cookies. A damp towel makes clean up easy so you don’t have to scrunch up a sponge or paper towel. And a damp towel will dry quickly or go into the washing machine and come out ready to use again.

  1. Slip resistant Dycem® strips or mats

            Dycem self-adhesive matting to increase friction and stability        Dycem self-adhesive matting to increase friction and stability

(image of Dycem Pressure-Sensitive Strips courtesy of Sammons Preston, a division of Patterson Medical, Inc.)

Dycem® is a non-slip material that comes in sheets to be used as non-slip mats and it comes in self-adhesive strips to wrap around utensils or handles. The added friction provided by Dycem material ensures that you use less strength to hold or manipulate something. For instance, you can wrap a strip around a round doorknob to make it easier to open or around your favorite mixing spoon to make it easier to hold. Wrap a strip of Dycem onto a cane or walker handle for better security or around the refrigerator or oven door to make it easier to open. Dycem should be washed or rinsed regularly for it to maintain its non-slip surface.

  1. Narrow pliers
                                     Needle Nose Pliers
(image of Economy Needle-Nose Pliers/Wire Cutters courtesy of Sammons Preston, a division of Patterson Medical, Inc.)

Needle nose pliers are useful in a variety of locations. Use them to pull the cotton out of those small annoying medicine bottles. Use them to hold one end of a bracelet or necklace while you fasten it. Needle nose pliers make holding most small items less stressful on your hands.

  1. A quality pen

While some people like to recommend built up pens or pencils, my advice is to buy a good pen with quality ink that flows easily and needs minimal pressure to write clearly. A built up pen that writes poorly is harder to hold and write with than a thinner, better quality pen. If you tend to lose pens, use a sticky label to add your name to make it easier to identify and remember. Always keep the pen in one place and always return it to that place when you are done. You do not need to spend a fortune on a pen but a 15 cent office store pen will never be worth the 15 cents you spent when your thumb is too sore to write with it.

As for the next 5 items on my top-10 list of products that can make living with arthritis easier, look for the next blog.

Do you use products that help make your life with arthritis easier? Share them in the comments below to help others.

Author: Julie Belkin


I keep a metal wrench from my tool box and a wooden handled screwdriver also from there, in a tall heavy coffee cup and use them constantly. The wrench for pulling the foil cap back off the top of my Cesar dog food container. To hold it with my thrumb and forefinger and pull it off is very painful to that bone that sticks out at the base of my thumb. I don't think that's a joint but it is close to my wrist and is noticeable on both hands. Also the screwdriver is very helpful in opening the tops of cans which have those little loops in the metal which have to be pulled back and then you must pull the top completely off. I can work this whole thing by starting with the screwdriver slipped into the loop and then leveraging it in different ways to accomplish this. Hope this is helpful and hope I can find a splint to help.
Posted @ Tuesday, March 02, 2010 8:09 PM by Margaret McDowell
I use the squishy, stretchy pencil tubes meant for children learning to write. By sliding them over my nice pens, they make the pens wider and easier to hold, and the "comfort" squishy grip keeps the pens from getting away from me. Plus, with the embedded glitter and bright colors, no one borrows them!
Posted @ Monday, July 19, 2010 10:46 AM by Erin Herold
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