If you’re living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you may know the role that chronic inflammation plays in creating swelling and painful joints — including the joints in your hands.

While the goal of RA treatment is to reduce inflammation and pain, you may also want to consider other ways you can minimize pain in your hands, while also improving overall movement and dexterity so you can continue with your daily activities and hobbies more comfortably.

There are numerous assistive and pain management devices available to help you manage RA symptoms in your hands. Check out the following items, and learn how they may be able to reduce pain and improve your overall quality of life.

infographic hand tools for rheumatoid arthritisShare on Pinterest
Illustrations by Sophia Smith

Before considering assistive devices, it may be helpful to address the source of inflammation first. Even if you’re currently taking medications such as steroids or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) to help reduce inflammation-induced pain in your joints, your hands may benefit from the extra support of compression gloves.

When looking for compression gloves for RA, consider those that are light enough to wear all day — and perhaps even at night to help you sleep better. Breathable fabrics, such as cotton, also tend to work well in all seasons to help prevent sweat. Also, some versions are fingerless, while others cover your fingers.

Consider the following options:

  • ComfyBrace Arthritis Gloves. These affordable, and highly rated gloves are fingerless and are made with a cotton-spandex blend to provide compression and comfort with everyday activities.
  • Big Mango Full-Finger Compression Gloves. If you want to cover your fingers for additional support, consider these highly rated copper gloves that also have touch-screen tips for using your electronic devices.

Unlike traditional spoons, knives, and forks used for eating, adaptive utensils — especially those with rubber or foam handles — might help relieve the pain and frustration you may experience while trying to eat your food.

Adaptive utensils with texturized handles may help with easy gripping. Utensils lightweight enough for you to hold them without using a lot of exertion could help you experience less pain and inflammation. Also, wider handles might help support reduced hand grip strength.

Here are two such options to help you get started:

  • BunMo Set of 4 Adaptive Utensils. This stainless steel set features foam handles with texturized grips designed for easy use. It also comes with a travel case, so you may easily take your utensils with you outside your home to eat.
  • Special Supplies Adaptive Utensils. This five-piece set is dishwasher safe, and is made with stainless steel and silicone handles for easy gripping. The company also offers a choice of gray or black handles.

While adaptive utensils might help you feel more comfortable and less frustrated while eating food, there are other everyday items that could also use wider, more comfortable handles. This is where foam tubing grips may help.

Available in a variety of diameters, lengths, and colors, foam tubing grips are designed to help make it easier to hold personal care items and improve overall dexterity during use. Possible uses include your toothbrush, comb, writing utensils, and more.

When looking for foam tubing grips, consider looking for a set with a variety of sizes so you can use them for multiple items. Different colors can also help you better identify your personal care items.

Check out these affordable foam tubing grip sets:

Getting dressed might be difficult when you have RA, especially if you’re experiencing inflammation and pain in your hands that may make seemingly “simple” tasks, such as buttoning a shirt or putting on shoes, more challenging.

Consider the following types of devices that might help you maintain your independence and ease comfort while getting dressed:

Dressing sticks

Dressing sticks are designed to help you put on shirts, jackets, and pants with ease. This might help relieve pain when gripping clothing items with your fingers and thumbs. Look for a device that comes with multiple cup hooks, such as this best-seller from Royal Medical Solutions.

Depending on your needs, you may also consider a multipurpose dressing stick and shoehorn, such as this 35-inch highly rated model by JJDParts.

Zipper pulls and button fasteners

Gripping a tiny metal zipper and pulling it up and down your jacket or pants may become increasingly difficult with RA, just as dealing with buttons might feel too painful.

While zipper or button-free clothing items can be helpful if you have a dressing stick, you may still need to deal with the occasional zipper or button on your favorite clothing items.

This is where a zipper pull might help. You generally have two options: pull tabs that attach and stay on your zippers, or this highly rated button hook and zipper pull 2-in-1 device.

Sock aids and shoehorns

Pulling on socks or compression stockings might be challenging with RA. Consider this sock aid with foam handles, designed to help make the process less painful.

Also, just as you might need help pulling on your socks, you may want to try aids for easier removal, too. Check out this removal sock aid made by Royal Medical Solutions.

While slide-on shoes and slippers tend to be easier with RA, you may still need to put on dress shoes, boots, or sneakers. A long-handled shoehorn designed for arthritis, such as this one, might help.

Aside from devices that may help you eat, groom yourself, and get dressed, there are other types of aids that might make other everyday tasks easier. These can include assistive devices in the kitchen, bathroom, and living room, such as:

  • Reaching tools are designed for picking up items with ease, and for giving your hands support while cleaning. Look for long-handled grabber-reachers, such as this highly rated version from Royal Medical Solutions.
  • Kitchen aids might help you open cans, bottles, and jars, such as this multipurpose set from Kagdida.
  • Smart home options, such as light switches and thermostats, are designed for you to control them with your smart device.

When you’re experiencing an RA flare in your hands, you may want to consider having supportive items designed to help you complete everyday tasks safely and with less pain. This can include compression gloves made to reduce inflammation, as well as a variety of assistive devices.

You may also consider telling your doctor about different tasks that may be uncomfortable due to hand and finger joint pain. In addition to your treatment plan, they may refer you to an occupational therapist for support.