Top 15 Around-the-House Gifts For Chronic Pain Patients

on background of wrapped presents and snowflakes, text reads "top 15 gifts that help chronic pain patients around the house"

Gifts for chronic pain patients can be so dang hard to shop for! So I’ve thought about all the discoveries and doohickeys I’ve used over the years to put together the ultimate list of the top dozen around-the-house gifts for people like me. Everyone’s limitations are different, but as someone with invisible disabilities and chronic illnesses I’ve found all of these items to be relatively inexpensive ways of making my day-to-day life easier.

Whether it’s cleaning, working, moving around, walking the dogs or just picking something up off the floor, these gifts for chronic pain patients will be used and appreciated long after the holidays have passed.

Full disclosure: I am posting these options with Amazon affiliate links, because why not. However, if you have a local business you can buy from I very much prefer you go there instead. I’ll also just leave the link to my Patreon here, just in case anybody would like to buy me a cup of coffee.

Brushing Up On Your Options

This is the biggest discovery of the year for me: drill brushes. Have a drill? (Doesn’t have to be a nice one, and if you don’t, you might be able to score one for free/cheap from  your local Buy Nothing or facebook marketplace.) These are sets of cleaning brushes that hook into your drill, so instead of scrubbing and scrubbing by hand, you just press the drill button and whirrrrrrrrrrrr there goes the dirt. (My dogs hate it, though.) I used these to clean up before my parents came by last week and they are a complete game-changer.

Standing Up For Yourself

For me, standing in one place is one of the most difficult, painful things there is. That means stuff like cooking, that usually requires a lot of standing, is even harder than it would be otherwise! But once I got a gel anti-fatigue mat, it made the process easier. And it doesn’t have to be cooking of course: does the person you’re shopping for stand up to do stretches, PT or other physical activities in a certain place? They sell longer gel mats that look sort of like yoga mats. Maybe they have a standing desk, or a job that requires them to stand in one place for long stretches? If it’s going to be all day every day, I’d spring for a brand name mat like these. They’re not all black and ugly, either (though of course, some companies had to cock that up).

telescoping black camp chair with cushion on top, also shown in smallest form within the cushion bag
Telescoping camp chair with cushion

And Taking A Seat

While the mats above make it easier to stand when you have to, I’m a big fan of also keeping stools around whenever possible to minimize the time I spend on my feet. You can choose anything from a very simple one that folds up, to one that’s more like a stepstool, to these fancy telescoping ones I’ve never tried but look awesome (see the pic above)– there are a bunch of different brands, but make sure you get one of the models that comes with a cushion on the top.

Even a camp stool is better than nothing, though I’d go ahead and get a full chair with some lower back / lumbar support. In general I would pay a little more money to find a stool with some sort of back support, like this one. There are also lounge-style chairs like the one below (which, I’ll be honest, I mostly included because of the great Santa image.)

green lounge chair with man in santa costume sitting on it, raising a glass of red wine to the camera
To lumbar support, huzzah!

And don’t forget a stool for the bathroom! Standing to shower can be incredibly draining; a plastic shower chair like this (or a nicer, sturdier one like this) can make showering possible.

They don’t all look like ugly medical supplies either: if your shower is big enough for a little bench like the one pictured below, it actually looks really nice!

Wood shower bench with soaps and towel on it
Check out this classy AF shower bench

Needing a shower chair is another one of those situations where it’s totally understandable to be embarrassed to need one. But at the end of the day the only person you’re hurting by not using a shower stool is yourself.

Needing a shower chair is another one of those situations where it’s totally understandable to be embarrassed to need one. But at the end of the day the only person you’re hurting by not using a shower stool is yourself.

Chronic Pain Laundry Hacks

Lugging it

Laundry is another thing that tends to kick my ass: lots of bending and standing. Normal laundry baskets have hard plastic handles that hurt your hands and an awkward shape to boot. So why not grab a soft, foldable, easier to carry laundry tote with handles that don’t hurt as much!

A laundry drying rack with clothes and room

Drying It

While you might not immediately think of these as gifts for chronic pain patients, I recently got a laundry drying rack and it has been an enormous help. Probably half my shirts can’t be put in the clothes drier and being able to just drape them over the rack saves a lot of time and effort. Mine is just a simple one like this, but there are a wide variety of different shapes (like this one, specifically for drying clothes like sweaters that need to be laid flat), types (like this space-saving model) and materials out there, depending on your laundry needs.

Folding It

And for the clothes you do have to fold? I have a friend who used to work retail and swears by these laundry folding boards.

Getting Grabby

When my L5-S1 herniated a few years ago and I underwent an emergency laminectomy, a little grabbermajig like this turned out to be incredibly helpful. (Other highly technical terms include “thingamabob” and “doohickey.”)

I will admit I felt goofy buying it, it seemed like a very Old Lady item to need! But at the end of the day every little bit of independence is worth it to me. Embarrassment is never a good reason not to do something.

I ended up buying a “featherweight” model that did everything I needed it to for the few months I used it regularly. For a fancier model with a rotating head and a bunch of other options, take a gander at this demonstration video for the RMS Grabber Reacher — there’s an inspiring soundtrack that swells like the moment in a Disney movie where the hero triumphantly decides to fight on the side of good or whatever.

First check out this article, “Three Things To Consider Before Buying A Grabbing Tool,” goes through the different options for these grabbers that may specialize in long reach, firm grasp or great value.

I will admit I felt goofy buying a grabbing tool–it seems like a very Old Lady item to need! But at the end of the day every little bit of independence is worth it. Embarrassment is never a good reason not to do something.

– Janet Jay

What’s In Your Lap?

Top-down view of a woman reading a book on a lap desk with coffee beside her
I have this exact one

Lap desks are important for anyone who spends a lot of time in bed or on the couch with their computer. They’re especially good gifts for chronic pain patients like me whose bodies don’t take kindly to being put in the wrong position. It serves a number of purposes. It keeps your computer stable as you shift around under it, and helps keep you cool. Most importantly, the desk raises up and tilts whatever you’re looking at to make the whole process more ergonomic.

Another similar option is what’s called a lap table or bed table. It’s like a lap desk with legs. (Like those trays people use for breakfast in bed on TV.) Most lap tables have foldable legs that allow them to transform into a more normal lap desk. There’s a huge range of options, from the most simple— a horizontal surface with folding legs– to the extremely complex, with cool materials, adjustable angles, integrated fans, and a hundred other little cool tweaks. Use them when you’re working on filling out your medical log and you’ll notice a real difference in your pain level.

The Quest for the Perfect Temperature

Heating Up

Soft Velvet Flax Seed Pillow with Lavender - Microwave Heating Pad – Microwavable Moist Heat Pack – for Neck, Muscle, Joint, Stomach Pain, Menstrual Cramps – Warm Wrap (Purple)
I personally don’t like lavender, do not buy this lovely thing for me as a gift

Anybody with chronic pain needs to have an ice pack and a heat pack on hand. Rather than an electric heating pad, try a rice or buckwheat heat pack you throw in the microwave. The “wet” heat is going to help your pain more. (Or clay, or flaxseed, or a bunch of other combinations.) I have one of these “Bed Buddies,” which is fantastic– I love the handles, which many others don’t have. But there are a ton of different designs, configurations, and soft/pretty fabrics. Some of them basically look like scarves. Some also add aromatherapy, most frequently lavender, to their heating packs. There are also some electric heating pads that claim to have a “moist heat” option, but I’ve never tried them and can’t vouch for if they work.

Keeping Your Cool

Universal Large Flexible Gel Ice Pack & Wrap - Cold Therapy for Your Hips, Shoulders, Elbow, Back, Knees – Instant Pain Relief for Injuries, Recovery, Swelling, Aches, Arthritis, Bruises & Sprains

Don’t forget the ice pack! This bad boy is big and can be strapped to just about any part of your body that may need some cooling goodness.

For migraines, I’ve found that a cold eye mask can make a big difference. (Or at least help a tiny bit, which is sometimes all you can ask for.) I have just a normal boring one, but there are also a zillion other options: fitting over your entire face! covered in silk! filled with glitter! I really appreciate the models like this that obviously took the concerns of migraine patients to heart. They’re designed to put the least pressure possible on your eyes. On the flip side are weighted masks, that I assume serve a similar purpose to weighted blankets.

Getting In Those Zs

Sherpa Weighted Blanket 20 lbs, Drewin Moroccan Print Flannel Fleece Soft Weighted Blanket for Adult, Dual Side Super Soft Extra Warm Cozy Fluffy Blanket, Wine Red 60x80 Inches
The image is correct, the blanket does provide a “cuddly sense of security”

Speaking of weighted blankets! I kept hearing people talk about how amazing they were. But since I didn’t know if it would help, I wasn’t sure if I could justify the cost. Eventually someone gave me one as a gift and quickly realized I should have bought it long before. Highly recommend it for your friends with anxiety or depression. It can also be a big help for people on the autism spectrum!

You can choose between 15 pounds and 20 pounds for weight, depending on your needs and your bed. There are a ton of different varieties and options, too. For instance, I’d spring for some with ceramic beads rather than glass. Make sure it’s well-sewn into sections to keep the beads from all clumping on one side. I was able to find a cover for mine that I thought was really cute!

Although I will admit, I wish I’d known that there were cooling weighted blankets as an option. (And for the cold-blooded among us, there are heated weighted blankets too.)

I am basically a human furnace, but more normal (or cold-blooded) friends swear that mattress toppers like this with built-in heating elements are great gifts for chronic pain.

Housbay White Noise Machine with 31 Soothing Sounds, 5W Loud Stereo Sound, Auto-Off Timer, Adjustable Volume, Sleep Sound Machine for Baby, Kid, Adult -Wood Grain
This one looks like something I’d like to have on my bedside table.

Sleeping Soundly with White Noise

Finally, let’s talk white noise. I personally just keep an air filter running in my bedroom, which does double duty as a white noise machine. Air purifiers run the gamut, from tiny $50 ones only good for one room to medical-grade options that filter your whole house. (This one looks like a good option AND is 50% off right now.)

But if you prefer an actual white noise machine, there are nine bazillion different types. You can get them with nightlights, alarm clocks, bluetooth integration, timers, built in baby monitors… just depends on your needs. There are are also many phone apps that provide white noise without the need to buy a whole physical thing.

BONUS! Graphic Novels About Chronic Pain: “Pain Is Really Strange”

On a background of neurons, the cover of a graphic novel called "pain is really strange" with a head, shown with brain with a little man on top with horns with sound waves coming from them. Text reads "Graphic novels about pain: "Pain is Really Strange," by steve haines, art by sophie standing, janetjay.com"

This lil graphic novel is a great introduction and explanation for what pain is, how acute pain can change to chronic pain, and how to use brain plasticity to combat it. Check out my full review for more info and examples of the amazing artwork! There are more books in the series you might find interesting too: “Anxiety Is Really Strange“, “Trauma Is Really Strange,” and “Touch Is Really Strange.

Want even more gifts for chronic pain?

I hope that some of these gifts for chronic pain patients are able to make someone’s day-to-day life just a little bit easier. Did I forget anything? Are there better choices for some of these items than the ones I linked? Leave me a comment or shout on social media, I’d love to hear from you! And make sure to check out last year’s ultimate guide to gifts for chronic pain!

woman lying down on couch typing on phone, search bar reads "https://www"  <a href="https://storyset.com/online">Online illustrations by Storyset</a>

Drill Brushes:

Gel anti-fatigue mats:

Stools:

Grabber extenders:

Laundry:

Lap Desks:

Heating pads:

Have you used an electric heating pad that promised “wet/moist heat”? Please leave a comment or shout at me on social media and tell me what your experience was and if you think it lived up to the hype.

Ice Packs:

Bedtime Blankets:

White Noise:

BONUS! Graphic Novels About Chronic Pain & Mental Health:

Pin this so you remember these ideas are here!

On a background of white wrapped presents with a tree and stars clipart, text reads "top 15 gifts that help chronic pain patients around the house, janetjay.com"

And check out my newest gift guide for ADHD, for the 2023 holiday season!

Red sign saying "last minute" beside text reading "life hack gifts for people with adhd" above an illustration of hands with boxing gloves holding up a wrapped prsent in front of a background of other presents, janetjay.com

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Hopefully this site will help you avoid some of the BS I’ve experienced over the last 20 years seeking treatment for my chronic pain, invisible illnesses & mental health challenges. Maybe it’ll even help you think about disability in a new way! But at the very least, I hope you learn something, and I hope it helps you feel less alone.

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