If a condition like arthritis, carpal tunnel, or wrist tendinitis affects your daily life, writing can be a challenge. That's why there are ergonomic writing tools to relieve tension and promote healthier wrist positioning.
“You really want to make sure that you’re comfortable and not causing additional concerns,” says Karen Jacobs, OT, MS, EdD, an occupational therapist and clinical professor at Boston University. When looking for a writing tool, Dr. Jacobs recommends getting a pen with wide grips to reduce hand pain or inflammation.“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. A doctor of internal medicine and rheumatology fellow from our Medical Expert Board then reviewed the contents of this article for medical accuracy surrounding what to look for in ergonomic writing tools and who would benefit from using them.
Here are the best writing tools on the market today.
Functional for variety of utensils
Right or left-handed
Too large for some
Doesn’t stay on narrow utensils
We chose this as our top pick because the grip aid is made with 100% medical grade silicone, so it’s comfortable in your hand and durable. While the shape may be too large for some people with smaller hands, it has a universal design so both left or right-handed writers can make use of this utensil.
Price at time of publication: $24
Weight: 2.4 ounces | Special Features: Can be used for multiple utensils, for right or left-handed individuals
PILOT Dr. Grip Center of Gravity Refillable & Retractable Ballpoint Pen
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.
Price at time of publication: $10
Weight: 0.8 ounces | Special Features: Refillable ink cartridge
Best Gel Pen
PILOT G2 Premium Refillable & Retractable Rolling Ball Gel Pens
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.
Price at time of publication: $25
Weight: 0.4 ounces | Special Features: Fast-drying ink
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Penagain Ergosof Ballpoint Pen Set of 4 Colors
Refillable ink cartridge
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.
Price at time of publication: $19
Weight: 0.32 ounces | Special Features: Refillable, pocket clip
Best For Lefties
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.
Price at time of publication: $13
Weight: 0.64 ounces | Special Features: Designed for lefties
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Best Pencil Accessories
The Pencil Grip Universal Ergonomic Writing Aid
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.
Price at time of publication: $22
Weight: 0.25 ounces | Special Features: Dual-sided grip
Wide, contoured grip
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.
Price at time of publication: $18
Weight: 3.5 ounces | Special Features: Replaceable ink, retractable tip
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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
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.”
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.
Grip pens are your prescription for writing comfort. Featuring a unique balanced design, a cushioned grip that alleviates writing fatigue and inks designed for smooth writing, Dr. Grip pens come in a variety of colors and designs to meet all your writing needs.What is the most ergonomic writing grip? ›
The most ergonomic way of holding a pen is between the middle and index fingers, rather than between your thumb and index finger. This can reduce muscle stress and increase the comfort and legibility of the writing.Do pencil grips help arthritis? ›
Larger-barrel pens — as well as rubbery grips that can be installed over narrow pens and pencils — can reduce stress on finger and thumb joints. Some pens are designed to be worn on a finger, while others are shaped like a Y so your forefinger can rest on top of the pen.