Gifts for People Living With Chronic Pain

Updated on July 26, 2017
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Sadie Holloway loves researching and writing about simple ways to live a healthier lifestyle.

When someone you care about is suffering and in pain due to a chronic disease, illness or injury, it can be hard to watch them struggle with their symptoms. These gift ideas for people living with chronic pain can help bring comfort and relief from the aches and strains associated with many different illnesses and injuries.

When a  friend or loved one is in pain, you'd give anything to see her smile again. Perhaps one of the gift ideas might help.
When a friend or loved one is in pain, you'd give anything to see her smile again. Perhaps one of the gift ideas might help.

Laughter. Anything that helps someone living with chronic pain laugh a little bit makes a thoughtful gift. Why? Because laughter has been scientifically proven to improve health and speed healing. Laughing increases blood circulation and delivers oxygen to the body's vital organs and systems. Laughing also helps increase the body's own feel good hormones known as endorphins which can help ease feelings of pain.1

Here are a few ideas to help bring back the laughter:

  • DVD box set of her favorite classic sitcom to evoke happy memories and playful giggles.
  • CD compilation of live recordings of famous stand-up comedians
  • Humorous fiction, funny essay collections, and autobiographies
  • Comic strip anthologies and joke books

Audiobooks. Reading is a leisurely activity that can have positive health benefits, especially for people who live with chronic pain. Being immersed in a thrilling spy novel, a suspenseful mystery or a heartwarming romance can provide a welcome distraction from pain and discomfort caused by various illnesses and injuries. For people who have a hard time sitting or get stiff neck muscles, audiobooks are highly recommended because they allow the 'reader' to get comfortable in a variety of positions without having to prop up a book or look down at the pages.

Restaurant and take-out gift cards. At the end of a long day, who doesn't like having someone else cook a nourishing dinner and clean up the dishes? For people who have to struggle to get through the day because of pain, having the option to order takeout or go for a meal in a restaurant can be a welcome relief.

For people who live with chronic pain, getting a good night's rest can sometimes be difficult.
For people who live with chronic pain, getting a good night's rest can sometimes be difficult.

Gifts that promote restful sleep. Living live with chronic pain can rob people of the energy and stamina they need to get through the day. At night, finding a comfortable position to sleep in can be difficult when joints are stiff and sore, and muscles are tired and achy. Anything that can help your friend or loved one fall asleep despite their pain can help improve energy levels, ease mental fatigue and improve overall quality of life. Here are few different gifts ideas to help cope with insomnia caused by chronic pain.

  • Blackout shades. For most people who suffer from migraines, retreating to a dark room is a must. Light, even soft light or natural light, can aggravate headache pain. Curtains that completely block sunlight during the day can help chronic headache sufferers cope with their painful symptoms.
  • Eye masks. When travelling, eye masks can help people deal with jet lag symptoms and get their sleep cycles back on track.
  • Pillows and body supports. Someone living with chronic pain may toss and turn until they find a comfortable position. Having an assortment of pillows in different shapes and firmness can make it easier to get a better night sleep. And not only do the pillows help ease people into sleep, they can reduce those awkward positions that can lead to stiff, sore muscles the next day.
  • Relaxation CDs and MP3s. Gentle breathing exercises and guided meditation recordings are a popular remedy for people who struggle to fall asleep at night. If you are not sure what kind of audio recording would be suitable for your friend, you could give her an app store gift card to sample and then download recordings that she likes.
  • White noise machines. Some people like having gentle background noise playing to help them fall asleep.
  • Heating pads or cool gel packs. Some people with chronic pain find that heat and cold therapy can ease discomfort after a long day.

Assistive devices that make life easier. From automatic can openers to gripping reachers and long-handled shoehorns, any device that helps someone manage the everyday tasks that put stress and strain on bones, joints, and muscles might be suitable for someone living with chronic pain. Your local drugstore or pharmacy is a good place to start looking for this gift suggestion. You can also go online and research various products for people living with disabilities or chronic illness.

People who suffer from frequent migraine headaches could be considered to be living with chronic pain.
People who suffer from frequent migraine headaches could be considered to be living with chronic pain.

Gentle reminders for giving gifts to people living with chronic pain:

  • Educate yourself about what it is like to live with chronic pain. Read books, websites, blogs, and personal stories about living with chronic pain. As a caring friend and ally, broaden your awareness and understanding of your friend's condition on your own.
  • Don't take things personally if your friend doesn't get excited about your gift. Living with chronic pain is not easy and many people often go through a period of grieving the loss of the ability to do many of the things they used to enjoy. It may be hard for your friend to express gratitude during a difficult time in her life.
  • Are you a doctor? Are you her doctor? If the answer is no, then don't overstep your bounds. Give your gift without offering well-meaning health advice. The fact that you recognized your friend was living with chronic pain and you wanted to give her a thoughtful gift to help make her life a bit easier is enough. Don't overdo it by bombarding her with things you think she should or shouldn't do. Give her your gift and trust that she is the expert of her own experience. Her own intuition coupled with care from a qualified doctor or healthcare practitioner should be her primary source of medical advice.
  • Remember that more than anything, the best gift you can give to someone with chronic pain is your willingness to listen empathetically. People who live with chronic pain often have their symptoms minimized or dismissed. If you really want to be there for your friend, listen to her and let her know that you believe her.

Facts, Figures and Findings

A 2006 survey conducted for the American Pain Foundation found that among people living with chronic pain:

  • Roughly two-thirds (59%) of people living with chronic pain reported an impact on their overall enjoyment of life.
  • Over three quarters of patients (77%) reported feeling depressed.
  • 70% reported that they have trouble concentrating.
  • 74% said their energy level is impacted by their chronic pain.
  • 86% reported an inability to sleep well.

(Source: The American Academy of Pain Medicine)


1. Scott, Elizabeth. "The Health Benefits of Laughter," updated April 17, 2017.

This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2017 Sadie Holloway


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