a laptop with an ergonomic keyboard, a tablet with a case standing up and a phone with a pop socket

Using Electronic Devices With RA Hands

Last updated: February 2023

Successfully managing the use of electronic devices intended to make our lives easier and more efficient can be neither if we are not careful. It seems to me it is all about modifying; the actual devices, the time we spend on them, and the choices we make all play a role in how our RA hands will contend with the devices we use.

Specially modified phone cases and stands

For example, our phones. Simply holding my phone in the traditional way is painful for me if I do it for more than 10 to 15 minutes. So, I have an extender built into my case that pulls out and slips between my two fingers, thus relieving the pressure. Additionally, it serves as a stand so that, if I am chatting with someone, I can put it in the stand mode and I do not have to hold it at all. This has been a real "hand saver."

If you do not have a way to modify your phone, then you should probably be careful about how long you hold it. Before I had the modifying piece, my hand would literally cramp up and my fingers would ache if I was not vigilant about how much time I spent on my phone without taking a break.

Also, you can do some simple finger stretching exercises to get some relief. Another option is to use some type of earbuds or a headset so that you don’t have to hold the phone while speaking. I use my earbuds anytime I am making a call that I know will last longer than a few minutes.

Modifying the reading experience

I am an avid reader. I prefer holding a book for a variety of reasons. I discovered that my RA hands did not like that choice. My hands do not like being in any position for too long and holding a book, even a paperback, induces hand discomfort. So, I eventually got an E-reader, and what a difference! They are lighter and easy to hold.

Getting device covers that have built-in stands is another great modification. For my E-reader, I purchased a cover with a stand so that when I read I don’t even have to hold the device. Mine also has a slip-in sleeve on the back as well, and my hand slides in there so it can be hand-held with no discomfort. The same goes for my tablet; I have a wonderful folding cover that not only protects it but acts as an adjustable stand.

Additionally, these various covers keep the devices from slipping out of my not-very-strong hands and allow me to not have to have a death grip on the slippery outer shell.

Choosing the right keyboard for your needs

When it comes to laptops, PCs, or any device with a full keyboard, the actual keyboard choice is a crucial part of my decision on which one to purchase. I actually went to a store and tried out the model I was interested in before purchasing it because I knew that the key spacing, key size, touch features, etc. were especially important for my RA hands. There are so many different types with very different "feels" to them.

Nowadays, there are also several wonderful ergonomic versions, and they work very well for some folks. I find them to be too large for my small hands, but I know many people who love them — not just for hands, but to prevent elbow and forearm fatigue as well.

These are just a few suggestions that may alleviate the RA hand issues we encounter with the devices we use these days, thus allowing us to truly appreciate what they bring to our lives.


By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.


This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.

Community Poll

On average, how many times per month do you (or your caretaker) go to the pharmacy?