Because I struggled with holding books and tablets while reading, I bought a music stand. This solves most problems; there are clips to hold the book open and I also don't have to bend my neck, which is blissful. In bed I put a pillow on my stomach/chest. If the book isn’t very thick, I use a clear Perspex recipe book holder.
Marie, via email
I adore reading and in 2012 began to fear that my ability to hold a book was time-limited due to rheumatoid arthritis in my hands and wrist. My grandchildren bought me a Kindle as a Christmas present that year and I was delighted because it was so light.
Two years later, holding even this was becoming a challenge. Last Christmas, they bought me a Kindle Techbed made by Muscava and Edge Beanbags. This clever little beanbag holds e-readers and paper books perfectly and adjusts to the surface. This means I can read in bed in any position or place it on the arm of my chair, the sun bed in the garden or on my counter to read a recipe from my iPad.
It’s a wonderful product in quality material, made by a small British company who give excellent customer service. I love sharing info on 'good news' and would like them to get the praise they deserve. It doesn't sound like much but it has made such a difference to my life and that of my friends (who are also affected by rheumatoid arthritis).
Mary, via email
If you're looking for a light-weight book-holder, I'm delighted to recommend the Gimble, designed to hold paperbacks. It's an extremely light and effective product, sold as a pair (two different sizes), which in my experience has accommodated all paperbacks I've used it on. It costs about £5 a pair. I'm 47 and have had osteoarthritis for some years, and as a keen reader was finding it increasingly difficult to hold books open for any length of time. The Gimble is one of the most useful aids I've ever purchased.
Maggie, Chester (Spring 2010)
Absolutely swear by gel pen grips. Writing is so painful for me, especially with thin pens, but these make it a lot more comfortable and my hand cramps/joint pains are definitely reduced. I just stick one on my favourite biro and off I go.
Ruth, via Facebook (Winter 2017)
If any of your readers, like me, have found writing in a painful experience, I can recommend a website called Simply Health. On the section ‘Staying Active’ there is a section on reading and writing aids, including easy-grip pens. I would be interested to hear of any other useful aids to help me with my correspondence.
JA Adamson, Worthing (Winter 2009)
I’d been having increasing difficulty for eight years since I was first diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, and as good handwriting had been one of the very few talents which I could claim, I found this to be particularly frustrating and depressing.
Then fortunately a friend spotted someone using a very ‘weird-looking pen’ (her description), which sent me to search Google for ‘handicapped pens’. Surprisingly this search revealed a wide range of products designed to address all sort of difficulties. I already knew from past experimentation that my problem needed something more radical than the thickness or type of grip of a conventionally shaped pen or ballpoint pen, and happily I decided to try two possible low-cost solutions, both from Sigma Pens.
The first, RinG-Pen, is quite unlike the shape of normal ballpoints and I immediately found that in my case it provided much better control and made it easier to position the tip on the paper, and reduced the amount of tremor from my fingers. The second, RinG-Pen Ultra, uses a similar principle but in the form of a resilient contoured moulding, which clamps to the body of a conventional pen or ball-point. I find this more practical to use as it offers a much longer-lasting ink-reservoir. Either version can be had for less than a tenner including postage so I thought they’d got to be worth trying, and I’m so glad that I did. Are they a total solution?...No. But do they make legible writing significantly easier?...In my case, they certainly do, and I believe that with practice further progress is probable. I must emphasise that my only connection to Sigma Pens is that of a very satisfied and grateful customer.
David, via email (Summer 2014)
Using phones, tablets and e-readers
I bought this little attachment for the back of my phone. It makes holding it so much more comfortable, especially when my little finger joint is inflamed. And it pushes down flat when you’re not using it. I got it off Amazon, but I think eBay do them too. Just search for pop out phone grip.
Claire, via Facebook
I'm using my new e-reader to send this, and would recommend anyone who suffers from chronic arthritis in their knees and or feet, who likes or needs to spend a lot of time on their computers, to get a tablet. I've increasingly found myself unable to sit at my desk long enough to get everything done. With this I can now sit in my riser-recliner chair, with my feet up, a heated pad over my knees whilst sorting emails, social media and web research, allowing more time for the use of the computer which I cannot easily do on the tablet.
Typing is slower, though a fine stylus helps, as does predictive text. I've also downloaded an Office Suite app, so I can now do most things other than update my website.
Barbara, via email
All hints and tips are provided by readers of our Arthritis Today magazine and aren’t necessarily the views of Arthritis Research UK.
Please send your hints to firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up to Arthritis Today.
Links to sites and resources provided by third parties are provided for your general information only. We have no control over the contents of those sites or resources and we give no warranty about their accuracy or suitability. You should always consult with your GP or other medical professional.