The 7 Best Can Openers for People With Arthritis

Amazon Basics Electric Can Opener uses a steel blade to open cans easily

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Can openers may seem like no big deal—just a kitchen staple that you don’t have to think twice about operating. However, when you start to experience inflammation of the joints associated with arthritis, the swelling, pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion start to seriously affect your ability to do everyday tasks, says Manisha Mittal, MD, rheumatology director at St. Agnes Medical Center in Fresno, California. 

Reviewed & Tested

Amazon's Basics Electric Can Opener uses a stainless steel blade to open cans smoothly. We recommend Hamilton Beach's Classic Chrome Heavyweight Can Opener as a large can- and dishwasher-friendly option.

In addition to the pain and swelling in the hands, Stuart D. Kaplan, MD, chief of rheumatology at Mount Sinai South Nassau, in Oceanside, New York, says that people with arthritis may also have to deal with deformities of their finger joints. “This makes it difficult to grasp and hold things, especially small objects,” says Dr. Kaplan.

When shopping for a can opener, it's important to keep an eye out for features like an ergonomic design, minimal touch features, and oversized grips. We researched dozens of can openers and evaluated them for power type, additional features, ergonomic designs, and price.

Here are the best can openers for people with arthritis.

Best Overall: Amazon Basics Electric Can Opener

4.8
Amazon Basics Electric Can Opener

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Compact

  • Magnetic lid holder

Cons
  • Not very powerful

  • Loud

Who else recommends it? Best Products and BestReviews picked the Amazon Basics Electric Can Opener.

What do buyers say? 80% of 19,100+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

This Amazon Basic's Electric Can Opener is compact, affordable, and very straightforward to use, earning its spot as our top pick. An electric can opener eases the process. Just flip the lever down to lower the stainless steel blade onto your can and it automatically starts turning to smoothly open the can. The magnet holds onto the lid while you lift the can away. It won't cut odd-shaped cans or dented ones, but it does work on both standard and large circular cans.

One special feature we really like: Whereas most other devices cut the top off with a jagged edge, this device cuts the lid in a wavy line, which lowers the chances of cutting yourself when you take the lid off. This is an especially great feature for people with a weaker grip who might drop the can once they remove it.

Type: Electric | Additional Features: Knife sharpener

Best Dishwasher Safe: Hamilton Beach Classic Chrome Heavyweight Can Opener

Hamilton Beach Heavyweight Electric Can Opener

 Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Extra tall design accommodates large cans

  • Auto shutoff for hands-free operation

  • Removable, washable cutting unit

Cons
  • Not as sturdy as earlier models

If you reach for a can opener, you're likely going to to crack into messy-but-delicious ingredient like tomato sauce or pumpkin puree. Save yourself the trouble ahead and opt for one that can be cleaned fuss-free—that is, by just running it through the dishwasher.

This heavyweight opener is extra tall, which is great for easy grabbing and maneuvering. It's also electric, making it easy to use. The base stays plugged in, but the cutting unit is removable and dishwasher-safe. What’s more, this part is engineered with patented technology to make sure your can opens on the first try, every time.

The appliance itself isn’t too loud and when it comes to most standard size cans, you can press start and walk away while the magnet does its thing (no need to hold). We also love that it has an auto shutoff once you’re done with it for guaranteed safety.

Type: Electric | Additional Features: Knife sharpener, cord storage

Best Durability: Cuisinart CCO-50 Deluxe Electric Can Opener

CCO-50 Deluxe Electric Can Opener

Best Buy

Pros
  • One-touch operation

  • BPA-free

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Plastic lever

If you've wasted money on cheap, flimsy opener after opener, it's time for one last purchase. The CCO-50 one is crafted from all stainless steel, has the backing of Cuisinart’s stellar reputation behind it—and, as an extra guarantee, comes with a three-year warranty.

The device itself is remarkably easy to operate, especially if you have limited range of motion. Just place the can and lower the lever, and the electric blade will open the can with no effort on your part. When the device is finished cutting, a magnet holds onto the lid while you move the can out, so you don't have to worry about slicing your finger in the process.

Not only does it fit cans of all sizes, but it's extra wide at the base so it won't tip over while you're trying to unlock the can. It's lightweight, easy to clean, and doesn’t take up your entire counter.

Type: Electric | Additional Features: Warranty, extra-wide base (to prevent tipping), removable lever

Best Handheld: OXO Good Grips Snap Lock Can Opener

OXO Good Grips Snap Lock Can Opener

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Snap-Lock feature simplifies usage

  • Oversized knob

Cons
  • Can be difficult to get the lock on

The OXO opener may not be electric, but it's snap-and-lock feature and cushy handle make it so you can grip the device without much effort. The side wind is oversized, so it's easy to grab. And it moves smoothly, without too much finger strength.

The opener never touches the contents of the can, so you don’t have to worry about washing it—just throw it right back into the drawer after use. If it does get dirty, the stainless steel body is easily cleaned by hand (but it can’t be run through the dishwasher).

After the can is fully cut, the opener acts like pliers to remove the lid without you ever touching it. And the device is designed in a way that it opens cans without leaving sharp edges once it’s without its lid. This minimizes the chances of cutting your finger as you scoop out what’s inside.

Type: Manual | Additional Features: Dishwasher-safe

Best Electric: Hamilton Beach Smooth Touch Can Opener

4.6
hamilton beach can opener

Courtesy of Best Buy

Pros
  • Cuts can lid with smooth edges

  • One-hand operation

  • Opening lever is easy to push

Cons
  • Complicated instructions

Electric can openers are remarkably easier to use if you have limited strength or limited range of motion in your hands. And while this appliance is a tad pricier than anything else on our list, it’s also hands down the product with the fewest compromises or complaints. 

For starters, this appliance is very well designed: Hold the can up to the blade and press down on the top lever—which is huge and features minimal resistance, making it easy to press regardless of mobility and strength. Then, the appliance will hold the can up on its own as it cuts all the way around, letting you focus on pushing the lever down. Once it's done, just release the lever.

This device opens both standard-size cans and pop-tops, along with non-circular shaped tins, which most others can’t do. The sleek black-and-chrome design looks clean, inconspicuous, and will fit right into any kitchen. The device itself is wider across the bottom so it won't tip over. And it even has a retractable cord so it won't get in the way if you keep it on your counter all the time.

Type: Electric | Additional Features: Also opens pop-top cans

Best Budget: Zyliss Lock N’ Lift Can Opener

4.8
zyliss-manual-can-opener

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Excellent value

  • Soft-touch, easy-to-turn handle

  • Stainless steel blade

Cons
  • Hand-wash only

  • Made of plastic

The cost of adaptive devices for treating arthritis can easily rack up. Luckily, the Zyliss Lock N’ Lift features a few bells and whistles without breaking the bank. While the opener features a manual design, it includes two notable details that reduce effort and keep things mess-free. The “lock” part of the name comes from a mechanism that locks the cutting wheel in place, leaving less strain on your hand. And the “lift” part comes from a built-in magnet that lifts the lid off the can, making it easier to dispose of. Plus, the handle is ergonomically designed with non-slip grips for easy grasping. 

A few downsides are that the opener is hand-wash only, and pulling and squeezing is involved, so it may be a better fit if your arthritis symptoms are more mild.

Type: Manual | Additional Features: Magnet to lift lid and allow for hands-free disposal

Best Design: Kitchen Mama Electric Handheld Can Opener

4.6
kitchen mama electric can opener

Kitchen Mama

Pros
  • Works with push of a button

  • Lid comes off with smooth edges

  • Ergonomic grip

Cons
  • Batteries not included

  • Hand-wash only

This petite, egg-shaped device may not look like a can opener at first glance, but is catered towards those with mobility issues or even recovering from injuries. Electrically operated so you can be hands-free, it starts and stops with the push of a button, and removes the lid while keeping the edges smooth to prevent accidents. Compatible with most cans, it’s also conveniently battery-operated, so you can take it with you when you travel, or anywhere else you may need to open cans. Finally, the ergonomic design makes the Kitchen Mama easy to hold—even for people who have difficulty fully gripping an object.

While it’s not dishwasher-safe or the cheapest option on our list, its one-touch operation and oversized design means less prep time and strain, making it a solid option worth considering.

Type: Electric | Additional Features: Battery-operated, compact

Final Verdict

If you just need something simple and reliable, Amazon Basics Electric Can Opener (view at Amazon) is the best for your arthritis and your kitchen. If you want to go hands-free, opt for the Hamilton Beach Smooth Touch Electric Can Opener (view at Hamilton Beach).

What to Look for in a Can Opener for Arthritis

Oversized Features

For handheld can openers, bigger handles and knobs can reduce the amount of grip pressure needed, Mittal says. “This promotes the use of the larger joints for the same motion, preserving small joints,” he says, adding that it helps you spend less energy to get the job done. Similarly, if you’re opting for a manual can opener, Dr. Kaplan recommends getting one “with thick built-up’ handles which makes it easier to apply force.”   

“Joint protection, activity modification and energy conservation become very important with hand arthritis,” Patrycja Pedzinska, OTR/L, CHT, a senior occupational therapist and certified hand therapist at Stamford Health tells Verywell Health. “Automatic can openers will be preferable over manual, however, if you’re unable to obtain one, one with a large and padded/soft grip would be superior to a standard one. 

Minimum Touch Requirements

For electric or battery-operated openers, look for ones with one-touch features, which can help to avoid joint pain and stress of holding a button down the entire opening process. Additionally, opt for an appliance with a magnet so you don’t have to hold the can up the entire time it’s being opened.

“There is an intricate array of supporting tendons that attach to the bones in the hands and fingers, where if something is malfunctioning, it can cause the rest of the structures in the hands to also malfunction," Frances Lomibao, MD, a rheumatologist and founder of Lomibao Rheumatology & Wellness Care explains. She advises patients with arthritis to opt for electric can openers whenever possible. “Using a manual can opener would present many fine-motor challenges. It would require many steps that are both time-consuming and painful.”

And while you’re thinking about minimizing the amount of pressure you need to apply when using a can opener, Mittal also urges people with arthritis to consider the size and weight of the item. For example, handheld can openers have the built-in advantage of being light and easy to stash away in the kitchen. However, if you’re going electric, make sure it’s light and convenient enough for storage to account for limited strength and mobility, he adds. 

Ergonomic Design, Including a Handle

When selecting a can opener, Lomibao says it’s important to look for one with an ergonomic design, or modified handle, “that follows the natural curve of the grip.” This is necessary, Pedzinska explains, because the pain caused by arthritis eventually leads to decreased grip and pinch strength, making it even harder to use a can opener.

“Stiffness in the hands will result in decreased finger range of motion, making it hard to even assume the position needed to grip or pinch properly,” Pedzinska says. “A feature to look for [in a can opener] would be a handle that allows you to grip with your hand rather than pinch, and ideally one that will allow you to use the bigger joints and muscles in the body such as the shoulder.”

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How might having arthritis in the hands/fingers impact a person's ability to perform everyday tasks, like using a can opener?

    Because we use our hands and fingers from the moment we wake up in the morning until the time we go to bed at night, having arthritis in these parts of the body would significantly impact someone's quality of life, according to Lomibao. “Arthritis in the hands leads to pain and stiffness, and as it progresses, can lead to deformities in the wrist, fingers and the thumb. All these changes will result in pain with pinching, picking up and manipulating objects as well as gripping and carrying,” says Patrycja Pedzinska, OTR/L, CHT, a senior occupational therapist and certified hand therapist at Stamford Health.

    Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis change a person’s joints, Pedzinska notes. “The thumb joint is especially affected with osteoarthritis, making pinching very painful due to the wear and tear of the cartilage at the ends of the bones at the base of the thumb,” she explains. “Using a manual can opener requires a person to use a key pinch. The force applied at the tip of the thumb gets multiplied as much as 20 times as it travels down to the base of the thumb resulting in excruciating pain even with the lightest force.”

    As for hacks to simplify can opening? Dr. Kaplan recommends wrapping a thick rubber band around bottle caps to help cut down on the manual effort. If your symptoms are new, consider consulting an occupational therapist to cope with the everyday difficulties and gain knowledge on adaptive devices.

Why Trust Verywell Health

Rachael Schultz is a freelance writer with a focus in health and nutrition. Her articles have appeared on a handful of other Health sites, and she has a degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design. She specializes in breaking down science and medical jargon into digestible information.

Additional reporting to this story by Elizabeth Yuko, Ph.D.

As a seasoned health writer and editor, Elizabeth Yuko is always on the lookout for new (and research-backed) products, techniques, and services that can help people cope with their health challenges and needs.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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