The 7 Best Ergonomic Writing Tools for People With Arthritis of 2022

Pain relief is possible with these inventive tools

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If a condition like arthritis, carpal tunnel, or tendinitis affects your daily life, writing can be the last thing you want to do. But when it comes up unexpectedly, it makes sense to be prepared. Though writing at work is becoming less and less frequent these days, everyone needs a pen from time to time. When you do, make sure you have the writing instrument that suits your needs.

Arthritis in your hands can cause painful stiffness, tenderness, pain, and even swelling. It can make gripping a slender pen a nightmare. Because of this, it makes sense to do a bit of research on better options, and you’d be surprised how many products there are out there that cater to this common issue.

“You really want to make sure that you’re comfortable and not causing additional concerns,” says Dr. Karen Jacobs, an occupational therapist and clinical professor at Boston University. Pens with wide grips and quick-dry ink are great assets to have when you’re writing with hand pain or inflammation. “A wider grip makes it more ideal,” Dr. Jacobs says. “But if we are looking at someone who struggles to write because they have tremors, like with Parkinson’s disease, you may want a heavier-weighted pen towards the bottom of the pen, closer to where the ink would be coming out.”

We researched dozens of ergonomic writing tools and evaluated them for grip, weight, price, padding, and added features. Each of the writing tools chosen in this article were determined to be the best of these factors.

Here are the best writing tools on the market today.

Our Top Picks
Made with 100% medical grade silicone, so it’s comfortable in your hand and durable.
The Arthritis Foundation actually puts its stamp of approval on this pen.
Users love the fast-drying ink that prevents smudging.
Best for Carpal Tunnel Disease:
Penagain Ergosof at Amazon
Slide your index finger between a wishbone-shaped rubber grip.
Its curved design allows left-handed writers to get a better view of what they’re writing.
These accessories can be used for both kids as they learn to write and adults with arthritis.
Ideal for someone who struggles to write due to a number of health conditions, like arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, or tremors.

Best Overall: Joy for Joints NuMuv Grip Aid

Joy for Joints NuMuv Grip Aid
  • Functional for variety of utensils

  • Right or left-handed

  • Durable

  • Too large for some

  • Doesn’t stay on narrow utensils

You can buy a handful of ergonomic grip pens or buy one tool and use it for all of your pens, pencils, paintbrushes, and more. This grip aid is made with 100% medical grade silicone, so it’s comfortable in your hand and durable. NuMuv is a company that was formed by a pharmaceutical research company that’s spent over 25 years researching diseases that affect the hands, like arthritis. 

While this grip is heavy and durable, its shape may be too large for some people with smaller hands. However, its design is universal so both left or right handed writers can make use of this utensil.

Weight: 2.4 ounces | Special Features: Can be used for multiple utensils, for right or left-handed individuals

Best Ballpoint: PILOT Dr. Grip Center of Gravity Refillable & Retractable Ballpoint Pen

PILOT Dr. Grip Center of Gravity Refillable & Retractable Ballpoint Pen
  • Wide grip

  • Refillable ink

  • Distributes weight

  • Difficult to replace ink

  • Too large for some

The Arthritis Foundation actually puts its stamp of approval on this Pilot ballpoint pen for ease-of-use. It’s designed with weight distribution in mind and features a double-layer grip for extra thickness and comfort. Because of its lightweight design (only .8 oz), this pen is ideal for taking on-the-go.

While the pen's ink is refillable, it can be challenging for those with limited mobility to navigate the replacement with ease and may require the help of others.

Weight: 0.8 ounces | Special Features: Refillable ink cartridge

Best Gel Pen: PILOT G2 Premium Refillable & Retractable Rolling Ball Gel Pens

PILOT G2 Premium Refillable & Retractable Rolling Ball Gel Pen
  • Affordable

  • Fast-drying ink

  • Multiple color and point options

  • Ink may leak

This pen's fast-drying ink that prevents smudging (especially for lefties) and consistent ink that doesn’t dry up with continued use. 

For users with arthritis, you don’t have to press down very hard on paper for the ink to come out, so you can relax even more while holding the pen. All in all, this is a great pen bundle for the price. Each box comes with 12 gel pens that will last for months. 

Weight: 0.4 ounces | Special Features: Fast-drying ink

Best for Carpal Tunnel Disease: Penagain Ergosof Ballpoint Pen Set of 4 Colors

Penagain Ergosof Ballpoint Pen Set of 4 Colors
  • Refillable ink cartridge

  • Retractable point

  • Non-slip grip

  • Not suitable for all hand sizes

  • Difficult to use at first

Slide your index finger between a wishbone-shaped rubber grip that may look a little different, but provides big time results. This pen is retractable, so you don’t have to worry about keeping track of a cap—or one popping off and ruining the inside of your bag. It also encourages a healthy wrist position, to relieve tension that comes from writing for long periods of time. 

This pen is great for anyone with Parkinson’s disease, carpal tunnel, or arthritis. This investment also comes with three total ink refills, so you’ll be good to go for a while.

Weight: 0.32 ounces | Special Features: Refillable, pocket clip

Best For Lefties: Maped Helix USA Visio Left Handed Pens

Maped Helix USA Visio Left Handed Pens
  • Prevents ink smears

  • Comfortable to hold

  • Ink can dry up quickly

  • Lacks more color options

This pen has thought of everything. The curved barrel (the part you grip) of this pen allows left-handed writers to get a better view of what they’re writing. The quick-dry ink is smear-resistant, so you won’t drag your hand across a word and ruin the whole sheet. These pens are available in both packs of two and three, so you can stock up and keep them wherever you need to write.

Weight: 0.64 ounces | Special Features: Designed for lefties

Best Pencil Accessories: The Pencil Grip Universal Ergonomic Writing Aid

The Pencil Grip Universal Ergonomic Writing Aid
  • Color variety

  • Dual-sided grip

  • Functional for variety of utensils

  • Too large for some

Universal is right; these accessories can be used for both kids as they learn to write and adults with arthritis. These inventive grips aren’t just for pencils either—you can pop them on crayons, markers, paint brushes, and more.

These grips are also dual-sided, so depending on how you flip them, they can be used for righties and lefties. If you love variety, this product is for you: you can purchase assorted colors in the amount of your choice.

Weight: 0.25 ounces | Special Features: Dual-sided grip

Best Splurge: Thixotropic Weighted Pen

Thixotropic Weighted Pen
  • Retractable tip

  • Wide, contoured grip

  • Expensive

  • Difficult to replace ink

These pens are five inches long and measure one inch in diameter at the grip. The wide grip and heavier weight make this pen ideal for someone who has been struggling to write due to a number of health conditions, like arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, or tremors. It also features a detachable lanyard for easy, on-the-go use. These pens come in a two-pack and feature metal ink cartridges for longer lasting use.

Weight: 3.5 ounces | Special Features: Replaceable ink, retractable tip

Final Verdict

Depending on your needs and the severity of your arthritis, it might be best to add a grip aid to all of your writing utensils, like the Joy for Joints NuMuv Grip Aid (view at Amazon). If you're looking for a classic, ballpoint pen that you can rely on for easy use, the PILOT Dr. Grip Center of Gravity Pen (view at Amazon) is great for anyone with limited mobility.

What to Look for in an Ergonomic Writing Tool

Ergonomic Features

For arthritis pain relief, look for pens or writing tools that are wider in diameter to give you a loser grip. Take into account what your needs are. Do you only feel your hands hurt at work after writing for long periods of time? Or does picking up any writing utensil for any amount of time cause pain? There are options that attach to the pens you already have, and single pens built for those with arthritis.

Don’t just rely on a writing utensil being advertised as ergonomic, though, when making a decision between devices available on the market. “Consumers need to be aware that just because it says ergonomics on it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a good design,” Dr. Jacobs says. “They should consider getting a few different writing instruments and trying them. Some are more expensive than others but I don’t think you have to necessarily spend a lot of money to help with any type of swelling, pain, or tenderness you’re experiencing when you’re using a pen.”

Multi-Use Functionality

If you find yourself writing often, you may want to opt for a grip holder over a pen. This allows you to transfer the device to different writing utensils, so you don't have to buy a bunch of separate, arthritis-friendly pens. If you're into art or swap between pens and pencils often, a grip may be a better option for you. “They’re aids and they're not expensive, so if you’re in love with something that you already have and you’re finding that it is harder to hold it, these very inexpensive pencil grips can be purchased,” Dr. Jacobs says. 

No matter if the grip is removable or included on the writing utensil, it’s important to consider that portion of the device when deciding between different ones. “It would be beneficial to have something that has a flexible or more modified grip so that someone can use it, even if they don’t have full functionality of their hand and joints, and are able to still perform the functions that they want to,” says Nilanjana Bose M.D., a rheumatologist with Memorial Hermann in Houston, Texas.

Alterations in Home Life

Changing the writing utensils that you use is just one way to address difficulties when writing and performing other daily tasks. “Looking at all of our instrumental activities for daily living is really important,” Dr. Jacobs says. “The writing utensils are just one thing to consider.” One option available to people is to look into assistive technology that is out there to help improve performing daily tasks. “The ability to use diction tools and voice recording is really helpful in today's day and age,” Dr. Bose says. “We should definitely embrace technology to its fullest.“

But it also important to understand your condition and “the root cause of the problem,” Dr. Bose says. “If it is something treatable like rheumatoid arthritis, maybe get that treated.” There are also exercises that people can implement daily that will help release tension and pain within the finger joints and other parts of the hand. “Employ proper exercises for the joints like squeeze balls and finger grip strengtheners,” Dr. Bose says. “Also be on track with medication.” Together, these different recommendations can help manage the symptoms you might be feeling and improve your daily life.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What types of features on writing utensils are best for people with arthritis?

    What features might work best for someone will largely depend on their personal preference and the reason as to why they're looking for a different writing utensil. “I really recommend people to go to a store that sells pens and pencils and purchase a few of them to try,” Dr. Jacobs says. Key qualities Dr. Jacobs recommends looking for writing utensils with textured grips, thicker bases, and an optimal weight. “With weight distribution, you don’t want to have a pen or a pencil that is too heavy to use,” she says. Dr. Bose agrees that it’s important for the writing utensil to be lighter in weight for the user. “The lighter it would be then the better it would be for the patient who has difficulty with mobility or agility,” she says.

  • When do you know you should start using an ergonomic writing utensil?

    One key sign to look out for when deciding if it is time to use an ergonomic writing utensil if you find you’re “having trouble with regular pens,” Dr. Bose says. “Not able to form [your] writing or being able to write for a prolonged period of time or having trouble with grip” can also indicate it’s time to alter your writing utensils, she adds. “That is when they should look into modifying to fit their activity and their use,” Dr. Bose says. Some signs and symptoms you might be experiencing to indicate that a different writing utensil could be beneficial include “any stiffness or tenderness” in the joints of the fingers and the hand, Dr. Jacobs says.

Why Trust Verywell Health

As a health writer with over eight years of experience, Brittany Leitner understands how important access to information is when it comes to making educated health decisions. She has interviewed dozens of medical experts, tested out hundreds of products, and aims to provide quality recommendations that won't break the bank.

Additional reporting to this story by Danielle Zoellner

As a seasoned health writer, Danielle Zoellner knows the importance of finding just the right product to fit your medical needs. Throughout her career, Danielle has interviewed a variety of experts in the medical and health fields while reviewing dozens of products. Her experience and knowledge in the field work together to help readers like yourself find the best products for your daily life.

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