Gift shopping can be daunting when you're buying for someone in pain. It doesn't have to be, though.
With an estimated 23.5 million Americans experiencing chronic pain, more and more products and services are being tailored to address the needs of individuals with chronic pain and inflammation.
So, the big question is, what do you buy for the chronic pain sufferer? Are there pain management gifts that can directly or indirectly provide comfort? We've searched high and low pulling together some of the best options for that special someone in your life.
Weighted blankets and throws
Comfort is one of the most important factors for someone experiencing pain. Conditions such as fibromyalgia are debilitating and contribute to overall sensations of discomfort. Other pain conditions can become more pronounced if the sufferer is cold.
Cuddling up in a soft, warm blanket can be therapeutic to not only the body, but also the mind.
It might seem almost counter-intuitive to swaddle someone in pain in a weighted blanket. Interestingly, research is showing the opposite. Fibromyalgia sufferers in particular have reported a marked benefit from these blankets.
It's been speculated by researchers that the cocooning effect created by a heavier blanket soothes the nervous system. This, in turn, allows the entire body to relax and prevent the "snowball effect" often experienced by those with chronic pain conditions.
A wide range of materials, sizes and prices make the options almost endless.
Weighted blankets can be pricey but the ready-made ones tend to be more affordable. SensaCalm offers a range of weights and fabrics or can create a custom blanket to your specifications. They also offer discounts -- check out the top of the page for current sales.
If you'd prefer to go the conventional route check out this blanket by Garnet Hill. The fuzzy, soft underside is perfect for wrapping up and relaxing. It comes in five sizes and starts at $98.
For the pain sufferer living in warm climates, the Cotton Weave Blanket/Throw from the Company Store comes in a huge range of colors and is perfect for year-round use. The price also can't be beat, starting at $39.
Hydroponic Indoor Garden
It's been suggested that gardening is good for the soul… but what about the body? It has been found in numerous studies that connecting with Nature can benefit people on both fronts.
A study on horticulture therapy found "significantly larger improvements for the horticultural therapy group vs the control group", including the areas of physical health, mental health, anxiety and CSQ pain behavior. All of this after just 4 weeks of horticulture therapy!
Of course, it may not be practical or even feasible for most chronic pain sufferers to have an outdoor garden. This is where a hydroponic garden kit such as the Click & Grow can fill that void.
It uses pre-filled hydroponic pods that are just placed into the unit. Water is added and the pre-programmed lights come on automatically.
A wide variety of vegetables, herbs, and even ornamental flowers such as marigolds and petunias are available, making it easy to appeal to anyone's taste.
Starting at around $100, you can give your special person a mess-free garden and bring the outdoors in. The big bonus? Fresh veggies, herbs and flowers year-round!
TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) massager
Sometimes the most practical gifts are the best gifts. They may not be beautiful but TENS massagers have been used with success by chronic pain sufferers. TENS units help a number of pain-related conditions; those with fibromyalgia have seen marked results.
TENS massagers work by emitting mild pulses of electricity to affect nerve pain. These small waves of electricity create a tingling sensation and effectively reduce the perception of pain and discomfort.
TENS units are available at multiple price points – a highly recommended unit in the lower price range is the TechCare Massager Plus. A bright LED screen and multiple settings make it a sure winner at around $40.
If you're seeking something with more bells and whistles, the iReliev for around $200 is definitely worth looking into. Its wireless electrodes make it convenient to use and store. It also offers a 2-year warranty and great customer service.
Dinner is Served
Daily duties such as cooking can be a major chore (and sometimes downright impossible) for those suffering from chronic pain.
The simple act of preparing (or purchasing) a clean, healthy, tasty meal and bringing it over for dinner can literally make someone's day. Thousands of restaurants have realized the importance of offering diners better food and now offer "clean eating" options. Check out this list of eateries -- it's just the beginning. If you're stumped, a quick search on Google such as, "clean eating restaurants near me" will give you some ideas of establishments that may offer specialized eats.
If you're not sure what to choose, consider this simple rule -- meals that contain real, whole foods and are void of common inflammatory ingredients such as gluten, soy, or added sugars are the best options. For example, instead of the fried chicken sandwich and fries, a broiled salmon fillet and herbed brown rice would be a "cleaner" choice.
Not much of a cook? Never fear – meal programs such as Urban Remedy offer a variety of healthy, prepared options designed specifically for certain health concerns, such as chronic inflammation. They deliver them right to your loved one's door, ready to eat.
Build a Pain-Fighting Bath Basket
Ask most people that suffer from chronic pain and inflammation and they will tell you – one of their go-to's for pain relief is a shower or bath.
Hydrotherapy is credited with working its magic in ancient texts. It has been used for thousands of years to relieve any number of ills. How can entire empires of Greeks and Romans be wrong?
More recently, however,it's been found in the formal setting of clinical studies that hydrotherapy has scientific merit in the treatment of pain (and many other) conditions. A study on hydrotherapy and balneotherapy reports that, "Temperature and pressure of water in aquatic or hydrotherapy can block nociceptors by acting on thermal receptors and mechanoreceptors and exert positive effect on spinal segmental mechanisms, which is useful for painful condition."
A few things to include in your gift basket:
Epsom or Dead Sea salts – rich in magnesium and other pain-melting minerals, Epsom salts and Dead Sea salts are available in a plain, unscented version, or, to really hit the spot, choose one containing natural essential oils.
San Francisco Salt Company carries both Epsom salts and Dead Sea salts in resealable packaging, making them convenient to keep at the ready for a good soak. This company's commitment to quality and purity makes them a top pick.
Aromatherapy shower bombs -- natural scents from pure essential oils can soothe the senses and bring about a sense of well-being. The shower or bath is one of the best places to take advantage of the powers of essential oils.
Not sure where to start? Add a bag of The Herbal Zen's shower melts to your basket. These natural, handcrafted toiletries come in a variety of scents that have developed a strong following. One reviewer states, "These are so wonderful and last for my whole shower. The lavender fills up the entire bathroom and leaves me calm and relaxed for the evening. I will definitely be getting more!" of the Sleepytime scent. This is a common thread throughout the entirety of the shower melts line from this company.
Ache-relieving creams -- Once your recipient is nice and relaxed from their bath and shower, following up with a cream specifically formulated to address pain and inflammation. Our Natural Pain Cream offers a range of natural, effective ingredients from Nature's pharmacy to help soothe aches and pains without the overpowering, medicinal smell.
Cold packs – cold packs come in a variety of shapes and sizes. For a great range of choices, check out ColPac's different options for nearly every part of a person's body. These particular packs are favorites of many pain sufferers, as they easily conform and are generous enough that they don't need to be regularly moved and readjusted. Include a couple of different ones to give your recipient multiple modes of relief.
Oh, and don't forget the eye masks! Look for one that can be used hot or cold to beef up the diversity. Tension headaches just melt away when one of these is laid over the eyes. The Karmick hot/cold mask is a great choice, in that it contains flax seeds instead of plastic beads. It can be heated or cooled easily and conforms beautifully to all those nooks and crannies around the eyes and nose.
Yoga for Pain Relief
Yoga is an incredibly effective tool to help relieve pain and the accompanying stiffness from swelling and inactivity.
Get that special person in your life moving and out of pain with the gift of yoga. Focused classes designed especially for pain relief are available in many areas. Most studios offer gift certificates, making it even easier to attend.
If your giftee isn't much for classes, create an all-in-one gift including a yoga mat, DVDs of pain-relieving yoga routines, a yoga ball and anything else you think might encourage them to make yoga for pain relief a part of their daily lives.
Sleeping and Chronic Pain
Chronic pain sufferers also tend to be chronic insomniacs. If your special person has trouble getting enough shut-eye due to their chronic pain condition, gift them with items that will help aid comfort, and thus, better sleep.
A top-shelf body pillow is a great place to start. The extra support provided by the pillow can help relieve hip, back and knee pain. It can also lend a little extra snuggling – something everyone needs from time to time.
The Snuggle-Pedic will provide your special person with great support that can easily be adjusted. Made of shredded memory foam, it conforms to the user's body and allows them to receive the extra support they need to get a restful night's sleep.
Journaling for Emotional Well-being
If your recipient is a worrier, a beautiful journal may be a great way for them to unload some of their mental and emotional burdens. Writing -- and particularly focusing on gratitude -- can provide an excellent outlet for those that are experiencing the daily challenges of living with chronic pain.
The Five-Minute Journal is a thoughtful way to show your recipient that you're focused on their well-being. Using tried-and-true techniques for increasing mindfulness and encouraging the development of gratitude, this tastefully designed journal will help them move through their day feeling a little more grateful, and hopefully, a little less anxious about the things they can't control.
The key to finding the perfect gift for someone with chronic pain is understanding their daily struggles. You can make it as fun or serious as you like. Use your imagination – if you think it might make them happy or improve their quality of life, you're on the right track!