Mayo Clinic Health Library

Slide show: Joint protection for people with hand arthritis

Updated: 06-12-2012

Toothbrushes

Photos showing toothbrushes with and without foam handles.

People with hand arthritis should avoid pinching items between their thumb and forefinger because this puts extra stress on already painful joints. Try adding a short length of foam tubing over the handles of toothbrushes and eating utensils. Certain types of pipe insulation tubing, which can be found at hardware stores, may be useful.

Large-handled tools

Photo of a vegetable peeler with a large, cushioned handle.

Many kitchen tools, such as vegetable peelers, can now be purchased with larger handles.

Turning tool

Photos of a pin tool engaging a house key.

This turning tool features a collection of collapsible metal pins. These pins individually depress so they can mold around objects such as oven knobs and the ends of car or house keys. Using the large handle on the tool helps people avoid the pinching motion required to turn knobs and keys.

Pens and pencils

Photo showing a variety of pens designed to reduce stress on finger and thumb joints.

Larger barrel pens — as well as rubbery grips that can be installed over narrow pens and pencils — can reduce stress on finger and thumb joints. Some pens are designed to be worn on a finger, while others are shaped like a Y so your forefinger can rest on top of the pen.

Kitchen knife

Photo of a kitchen knife with a handle similar to a saw. This type of kitchen knife allows your hand and wrist to stay in a more neutral position, avoiding the pinch grip used with traditional knives. Use an electric food processor to chop large quantities of vegetables.

Cutting board

Photo of cutting board with nail pegs. This type of cutting board may help protect hand joints by reducing the amount of force needed to hold on to food while chopping. The nail pegs and raised ledge help secure food during meal preparation.

Jar openers

Photos of two types of jar-opening devices. When you're faced with a stubborn jar lid or bottle cap, many different types of opening devices can reduce the amount of stress placed on your hand joints. For cans, use an electric can opener to avoid the finger strain of turning a hand-held model.

Automatic scissors

Photo of scissors that open automatically. In normal scissors, your hand must work to open the scissors as well as close them. Spring-loaded scissors open automatically, which reduces joint strain.

Buttonhook

Photo of a device that helps button clothes.

To protect your finger joints, avoid tightly pinching with your fingers. For example, use a buttonhook to help you grasp and fasten buttons on your clothes. Choose clothes with easy-to-close fasteners, such as zippers, large buttons or hooks.

Doorknob lever

Photo of a lever that attaches to doorknobs. Squeezing a doorknob can be hard on finger joints. A lever attachment makes it easier to open the door.

Shoulder straps

Photo of a woman carrying a large purse by its shoulder strap across her body. Avoid suspending the entire weight of a heavy briefcase or purse in your fingers. Use a shoulder strap instead.

Holding a book

Animation showing incorrect and correct ways to hold a book.

Use your palms to hold an object when you can, such as when reading a book or magazine. This helps you avoid bending the large knuckles of your hand while keeping your finger joints straight. Or try placing reading materials flat on a table or on a pillow in your lap to avoid grasping the items with your hands.

Getting up from a chair

Photos showing ways to rise from a chair that are easier on hand joints.

Use your legs to help you stand up. If necessary, push off on the arms of the chair or a nearby table with your palms — not your knuckles. Another option is to place your palms on your thighs or knees to push off.

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