Five Holiday Gifts for People with Chronic Pain

Christmas is a wonderful time to show someone who is in pain that you understand their condition and want to improve their situation. While you are shopping for a Christmas gift consider giving them something that directly relieves pain, helps take their mind off of their current situation or just shows that you care. It may or may not vastly improve their lives, but it may help buoy them through a difficult time.

In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report that almost one in five Americans lives with some form of pain lasting more than three months. The CDC also reported that almost 8 percent of the U.S. adult population lives with pain so severe that it interferes with daily activities.

Living with Chronic Pain

Before you can buy a gift for a chronic pain patient, you need to understand what it is like to live with an ongoing pain condition. The nature of the condition and its impact may depend on the individual, but there are some issues that are almost always present.

  • Daily uncertainty—whether you have migraines, lower back pain or arthritis, you can never know if your next day is going to be relatively pain-free or if it will be utterly crippling.  This anxiety can be as wearying as an actual flare-up for many.
  • Regular physician visits—although doctors only manage pain symptoms, visits are a necessity.  These trips can be financially painful and emotionally uncomfortable for many patients who encounter disappointment about their progress.
  • Pain management exhaustion—constant attention to every action is emotionally and physically exhausting. People who don’t have a pain condition find it difficult to understand how much self-care is involved.
  • Severe emotional pain—most people don’t understand that the physical pain is only one component.  The social isolation that usually accompanies chronic pain can breed anxiety and depression that is often debilitating.

How You Can Help Someone in Pain

If you have strong lines of communication with someone who is in pain, then you may be able to pinpoint a specific need that can inform your gift choice. However, if you are shopping for someone in chronic pain that you only know casually, here are some suggestions.

  1. Massage—regardless of the specific pain condition, a body massage is often a welcome escape from the pain. Almost all chronic pain sufferers have some form of muscular tension, either directly related to the pain condition or as a secondary physiological response. Having a professional work on those tense muscles will not only produce a wonderful relaxation, but it will also help boost the production of endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers. This is often a luxury for many chronic pain patients who may have limited financial resources, so you may want to consider gifting them with multiple vouchers.
  2. Quell—if you have not heard of the new pain product Quell, you may be surprised to learn how effective they are and that they are available without a prescription.  Quell is a drug-free pain reliever that applies a mild electrical current to the nerves. This current helps block pain impulses from reaching the central nervous system, but it may not be effective for everyone. If the patient has responded well to TENS treatments from a physical therapist, then they are probably a good candidate for Quell. The good news is that there is almost no risk involved with Quell, so if it doesn’t work, nothing is really lost.
  3. Gift cards—it may seem impersonal to give someone a gift card—it can be interpreted as a quiet admission that you don’t know them well enough to get them something they want—but most chronic pain patients would love an Amazon gift card that will save them multiple trips to the grocery or department store. If you know what kinds of retailers they like to shop, you may want to get them a more niche gift card, but you can’t go wrong with a broad-base retailer like Amazon or Walmart. Many chronic pain sufferers would greatly appreciate an Uber of Lyft voucher for their next doctor visit.
  4. Entertainment—most people use a good part of their day in a good book or watching television, and that is especially true for people in pain. Although it may not seem like a good pain solution, getting caught up in a good story on TV, in a book or on Xbox can provide some away time from pain symptoms.  Once again, if you know what kinds of entertainment they enjoy, you can give them vouchers for their favorite outlet or a new device like a Kindle or a Roku. If you are unfamiliar with their tastes, then you can always go with something generic like Amazon or Netflix.
  5. Time—one of the most precious commodities that any of us has is time. When we are willing to spend it with someone in pain, it not only helps blunt their pain for a while, but it also enriches our own lives. It may not seem like much, but sharing a meal, having a meaningful conversation or giving them a ride to the store can dramatically improve their emotional wellbeing. You may be concerned that they will only dwell on their own health issues, but you may want to consider it a learning opportunity. Ultimately, you will walk away knowing that you brought some joy to someone who desperately needed it.

The holidays are normally a festive time full of food, friends and family, but for the chronically ill, it can be a lonely time. A surprise gift from a dear friend or, even, a relative stranger can help make the holiday season a much happier one for someone in pain. Even if you can’t think of a gift that will make their health condition a little better, it is sufficient to just let them know that you care and are thinking about them at Christmas time.

Article written by: Dr. Robert Moghim – CEO/Founder Colorado Pain Care

M.D. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the personal views of Robert Moghim, M.D. and do not necessarily represent and are not intended to represent the views of the company or its employees.  The information contained in this article does not constitute medical advice, nor does reading or accessing this information create a patient-provider relationship.  Comments that you post will be shared with all visitors to this page. The comment feature is not governed by HIPAA and you should not post any of your private health information.