How To Shower With An Arthritic Back

Showering can be difficult when someone suffers from arthritis. Having joint stiffness can restrict twisting the body and make it difficult to wash the back.

The following strategies and assistive equipment can be used to more easily shower with an arthritic back:

Use assistive shower aids

By using adaptive equipment to modify the steps of taking a shower, someone with arthritis can be more independent and may be able to wash their back without any external help.

The following supportive shower aids can be used:

  • Long handled bath sponge – A sponge attached to the end of a long handle. Used to wash and scrub difficult to reach areas without bending or twisting the body.

When arthritis limits range of motion, a long handled bath sponge can be used to reach and wash the back, feet and shoulders.

The sponge can be soaked with water and soap applied onto. It is then held by the handle and arm movements guide the sponge to scrub and wash the desired area.


For people with an arthritic back, they may have trouble with bending forward, the sponge can be used to reach down to wash the feet, lower legs and toes. 

These individuals may also have problems with twisting their body to reach behind their back. The extended handle can be used to wash shoulders and the back as needed.

Overall, this equipment can help improve bathing independence and reduce the reliance on caregiver support.

Hand held shower heads have a lengthy hose that gives an individual the freedom to position the water over parts of their body a traditional overhead shower head cannot reach.


Through motion in the arm, one can control where the water hits the body and be able to wash one’s back, lower body and other areas even if one has trouble with twisting and turning.

For example, the shower head can be positioned at a slight angle to propel water in the air to rain down over the back and flow downwards to wash it clean.

Additionally, an individual sitting on a bath chair can control how they wash themselves instead of staying underneath an overhead shower head that pours water onto the same body part. 

A flexible hand held shower head can give someone a greater ability to wash all parts of the body, even if they remain in the same seated position.

Get shower help from a caregiver

For individuals that cannot wash their own backs with the use of supportive shower equipment and bathing routine modifications, assistance from a caregiver may be required.

A caregiver can be a family member, an unrelated support from one’s social circle, live in support worker or a privately hired care assistant that visits several times a week to assist with bathing. 

Aside from helping with cleaning one’s back, a caregiver can also supervise bath transfers or help with getting in and out of the shower. 

Overall, they are meant to boost someone’s confidence with bathing, with the knowledge that help is readily available should one encounter any problems during transfers or personal care.

Other helpful equipment for bathroom equipment for arthritis

Aside from washing themselves, arthritis sufferers may experience other trouble within the bathroom.

Painful joints, restrictions in range of motion and stiffness can make it hard to walk into the bathroom, get in or out of the shower and stand for long periods of time while washing oneself.

The following bathroom equipment can help with these issues:

  1. Mobility Walker

People with arthritis in their back may also have trouble with their static and dynamic balance. 

These individuals may benefit from using a mobility walker to help improve their stability and confidence with moving around at home and in the bathroom.

This device can be used to help position someone near the shower or bathtub in preparation to transfer into them to engage in personal hygiene.

  1. Grab bars

Joint stiffness and movement restrictions through normal range of motion can make it hard to transfer in and out of the bathtub or shower.

Installing grab bars on adjacent bathroom walls can give someone a supportive handle to hold onto while stepping in and out of the shower or tub.


While the main purpose of these handles is to support someone during transfers, they can also be used to help with:

  • held for support when sitting in a chair and attempting to weight shift
  • stabilize oneself when standing during a shower
  • pulled on to help with getting up from a bath or shower chair
  1. Bath chair

Joint pain from arthritis can make someone tire more easily and have less energy for personal care activities.

A bath chair can be used as a sitting surface while someone showers. This can help conserve energy that would otherwise be spent by muscles to try to balance someone that stands during a shower.


Additionally, the optional shower chair backrest can provide trunk support and allow abdominal muscles to rest, instead of focusing on keeping the upper body centered over the chair to not fall over.

  1. Long handled toilet paper wiping aid

Arthritis related difficulty with twisting and turning the body can make it hard to wipe the bottom after using the toilet.

With a self assist toilet tissue wiping aid, it is possible to clean one’s bottom without rotating the body. 


The extra long handle makes it easy to reach behind, wipe clean and then discard used toilet paper by pressing a button located on the hand grip.

Related: Bathroom Safety Equipment