Chronic pain hurts. Not just sometimes, but all the time. There are certain times of year when pain can flare, and it usually has to do with weather, at least for me. The cold is especially difficult for me, but the heat can also send me into a flare. After years of living with chronic pain, I have found several items that are key parts of my arsenal.
Chronic Pain Relief Gift Ideas
1. Heated Blanket
For some reason, I decided to move to the mountains in winter. I’m not quite sure what I was thinking, but the best Christmas gift I got was a heated throw blanket. Heated blankets come in all different sizes. Most of them have an automatic “off” after several hours which dramatically lowers any kind of fire risk. Most have settings like low/medium/high, but some go from 1 to 5 or 10, allowing you to fine tune the temperature to combat chronic pain. There are also different sizes. For example, I have a heated throw to use on the couch, but I also have a queen size blanket for my bed. I get so cold that I need them all over the house, but they truly help my chronic pain!
2. Heating Pad
Along with heated blankets, heating pads are my second go-to for chronic pain relief. Too often, my back hurts and a nice heating pad does wonders. I will also sometimes put it on my tummy — it helps to “move things along” and lessens my pain, since I have gastroparesis and SIBO. Heating pads come in all different sizes, like the blankets, and make a great gift for your loved one with chronic pain.
3. Physical Therapy Style Ice Packs
With my Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, I sublux (partially dislocate) my joints all the time. I can even fully dislocate them when they are bad. This causes extreme amounts of chronic pain. On the other side of the spectrum from heated blankets and heating pads is cold. It’s always good for a sprain, an aching joint or a minor injury. (I don’t know about you, but I have the clumsy gene!)
Physical therapy style ice packs, which come in many different sizes and types, are made of a gel material, which makes them flexible enough to do more of a wrap around the joint. They have large ones for your back, smaller ones for joints like your knees, and even ones with Velcro that you can wrap around your shoulder or any other joint. Overall, I find them much more useful than regular ice packs.
4. Deep Blue Rub by DOterra
I honestly swear by Deep Blue Rub, and it makes a great gift for someone with chronic pain. Not only does it help my chronic pain, it has a calming smell. If your loved one is sensitive to essential oils or smells, then grab a nice bottle of BioFreeze.
5. Epsom Salt for Hot Baths
A nice hot bath (with or without bubbles, your preference) is relaxing. A nice hot bath with Epsom salt can ease chronic pain. There’s a lot of relief after a long day in climbing into a nice warm tub and soaking. I also like to add lavender to my bath for a truly calming experience.
6. Comfy Clothes
Being disabled and home all the time, I really don’t get “dressed” that often. I’m generally, (and by generally, I mean 98% of the time), dressed in sweats or leggings and whatever else is clean and comfortable. I swear by leggings and sweats and with my chronic pain, even the slightest touch can be painful.
Allodynia is when things that aren’t supposed to hurt, like a gentle touch (or a more rigid waistband), become painful. So, when I buy a pair of sweats or leggings, I make sure the band is super stretchy and comfy, the material won’t irritate me (I have sensory issues as well), and they are warm. Here are some of my good old standbys (like black leggings!) and some styles you could buy as a gift for a loved one (or yourself) who is struggling with chronic pain.
7. Good Slippers
Slippers that have hard soles ensure less chance of slipping and falling, but make sure they’ve got the nice warm fuzziness! My go to are clog style slippers with Sherpa lining and a nice rubber sole that grips well, allowing me to wear them inside and outside.
8. Amazing Headphones
Music is an amazing pain healer. For the kind of music you need to at least drown the pain out a little bit, they must have excellent audio quality, be comfy to wear without requiring a lot of adjustment, and fit easily in a bag. Noise canceling headphones can help us tune out background noise and relax despite chronic pain.
9. The Best Pillow You Can Find
I love my down pillows. Whether you go with goose down or alternative down, you can’t really go wrong. In all seriousness, my mom got me a down pillow for my 14th birthday and at first I was so, so, SO disappointed, but in just a few nights, I realized what a treasure it was. Since then, I just can’t go back! I even (true story) left my pillow in a hotel in Utah one night, and when I realized I had forgotten it, I was devastated. I called the hotel to inform them that under no uncertain terms were they to lose my pillow… I would be back! After five days in Colorado, sure enough, I went back home through Utah and made sure to stop for my pillow!
With several types of down pillows available, it really is a personal choice as to which way you go. Goose down are softer, but down alternative pillows can also be great! For those of use with chronic pain, a good night’s sleep is critical.
10. A New Computer
True story: I lived a over a year without my computer. I didn’t think I missed it, but once I got a new computer, I realized how much I had truly been missing. The internet is a different place with a computer versus a phone or tablet, and there’s so much more you can do on a computer that other devices don’t allow. Now that I have a computer again, I will never go without!
With all of those days at home and lying in bed, a computer is a must have. It opens a whole new world to those of us who are housebound. There are great programs that allow talk-to-text if you have fine motor skill difficulties, and many computers allow you to customize your screen or enlarge text if you have difficulties reading. There are also filters you can put on your computer to cut out a lot of the blue light, making it easier for persons with migraines, for example, to use the computer without causing an instant headache.
I use night mode on my Mac 24/7 and it really makes all the difference for me. Without it, I would not be able to use my computer! If you’re really looking to splurge, I can’t recommend a MacBook enough, but if that’s not in your budget, there are other great choices!
Pain isn’t cool, but when temperatures are cold, it seems to bring out the pain all the more. Some of these items are perfect for cold weather, but most can be used year-round to help those of us who live with chronic pain. These are little “life hacks” I’ve learned throughout my years of battling chronic pain. As I move through life, (most of the time through trial and error, as is the human way) I pick up on little tidbits and tricks from other spoonies that help ease the way. I hope these gifts will help you or someone in your life as we move forward together, constructing a better life for us all!