How to Set Up a Rheumatoid Arthritis-Friendly Kitchen

Joint stiffness and pain can make cooking incredibly hard for people with rheumatoid arthritis. But you can enjoy it again with just a few modifications. Below are tips for a rheumatoid arthritis-friendly kitchen.

Revamp your cookware collection.

Sell or donate your old set of heavy cookware, and replace it with a new set of lightweight, nonstick pots and pans. Your new set will be easier to maneuver and won't require scrubbing, which can be hard on arthritic hands.


Modify door and cabinet handles.

Small cabinet handles can be hard to grip. Replace them with wider handles that allow you to grasp and pull with all fingers.

If you have trouble opening the refrigerator door, try this tip from "A Complete Illustrated Guide to Cooking with Arthritis": Tie a ribbon or scarf around the refrigerator door handle. To open the door, hook your arm through the loop and pull with your body weight.

Extra tip: Keep the number of items you store in drawers and on refrigerator door shelves to a minimum. This will lighten the load and make them easier to open.

Use lazy susans and pullout organizers.

Use lazy susans to organize your spice collection and pantry. Instead of having to grab and move items to find what you need, you can just spin the lazy susan to the right spot.

Pullout organizers are also a great addition to kitchen cabinets. They bring what's in the cabinet out to you instead of you going into the cabinet. They are especially useful for organizing pots and pans and items under the sink.

Use assistive kitchen devices.

Assistive devices make preparing meals easier and safer. You can easily find them online. Some medical supply stores can order them as well.

Assistive devices that are useful for people with rheumatoid arthritis include:

  • One-handed/Swedish cutting boards. These cutting boards are great if you have trouble grasping foods while cutting or only have the use of one hand.
  • Adaptive cutting utensils. Rocker knives make it easy to chop and cut food with one hand. Other types of ergonomic knives make chopping and cutting more comfortable.
  • Jar and can openers. Manual and electric jar openers eliminate the need to grip and twist jar lids. Electric can openers are also much easier to use than manual ones.
  • Upright dustpans. Upright dustpans allow you to sweep the floor without bending over. Look for one that's lightweight and easy to handle.

Extra tip: Placing foam tubing around your various utensil handles allow you to use your own utensils and help you to grip your utensils much easier.  The foam can then be removed when you want to wash your utensils in the dishwasher.

Learn more about joint services at The Christ Hospital Health Network.