Living with Chronic Pain

Tips to Open Difficult Medication Packaging


Medications can be packaged in various ways, including bottles and blister packs. Most packaging is designed to be child resistant; however, they are oftentimes difficult for those with certain chronic pain conditions to open. Diminished hand strength, such as with multiple sclerosis or arthritis, causes accessing medications to be problematic.

Tips to open medication packaging easier include the following:

  • Ask the pharmacy for easy-to-open tops for prescriptions. These caps are easier to open than default tops used with most prescription medications. Since they are so easy to open, you should keep them away from children to avoid accidental ingestion.
  • Request medicine to be transferred into an easier-to-open container. Ask if prescription medications in a pre-packaged blister pack can be transferred into an easy-to-open container. Although this may not be possible for all medications in blister packaging, it is worth asking the pharmacy personnel.
  • Buy over-the-counter products in easy-to-open bottles. You may find over-the-counter medications sold in bigger bottles with easy-to-grasp lids. They may be labeled as “easy open” or “arthritis cap”. Check to make sure it is the same medication and dosage.
  • Use a tool to open a blister pack. Medications are typically difficult to push through the foil of a blister pack. A tool, such as small scissors, seam ripper, dental hook, or letter opener, can be used to cut the foil. Use care to avoid cutting yourself.
  • Transfer medication into an easy-to-open bottle. After opening your medication, transfer it into a bottle that is easily opened. However, it is important to clearly label the new bottle to prevent confusion about which medication it is or accidental ingestion.
  • Use a rubber band. Applying a rubber band around a bottle cap provides extra resistance. This can make the bottle easier to open and is especially helpful for small bottles that are difficult to grasp.
  • Utilize non-slip mats and body weight. Place a “press and turn” medication bottle on a non-slip mat, with another non-slip mat on top. After placing your hand on the bottle, lean down with your body weight and twist to open. This helps avoid only using hand strength to open the bottle.
  • Talk with your pharmacy. Pharmacy employees can provide various ideas or solutions for hard-to-open medicine packaging. Snap-off caps may be a viable option. Also, some pharmacies also offer simple-dose, prepackaged medications, in which the top can be torn or cut off.

Additional sources: Creaky Joints, Arthritis Society, and Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

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