Gifts for people with fibromyalgia aren’t hard to come up with: you just have to put yourself in their shoes. (Hopefully, cute ones.) Though fibro is an invisible disability, that doesn’t make its effects, like chronic widespread pain, fatigue, sleep issues, and sensitivity to movement and environmental stimuli, any less real.
If you had those limitations, what day-to-day tasks might be challenging to get through or what self-care strategies might help? Think about the particular person you’re shopping for: what do they struggle with, and how could you help?
A well-thought-out gift shows care and compassion for your loved one and their limitations. But above all, useful gadgets and relaxation-promoting treats given as gifts for people with fibromyalgia help remind them of the greatest present of all: that you listen and that you care.
Depending on their particular physical issues, these items may allow your loved one to do more for a longer period of time. Though these can be great gifts, people with fibromyalgia should run the idea by their doctor before wearing these for significant portions of the day.
- Shoulder Brace: Supports the rotator cuff.
- Wrist Braces: Support for both day and night use.
- Compression Sleeves or Socks: More support for what hurts ya. My partner swears by these.
- You can use this hook and loop tape to make sure your brace, ace bandage or microwavable heat pack stays where you put it (more on heat and cold options below)
- Kinesiology Tape! This is a newish option in terms of pain relief. There are many different kinds and the application can be a little complicated so it may take a little trial and error to figure out how to use it to support your specific issues. But I know people who swear by these.
Standing Room Only
Supportive shoes (ugh): listen, I get it. I wore Chucks from age 13-35, but then my feet said “NO MORE, YOU ASSHOLE” and I had to find some shoes that were actually supportive. If you know your friend with fibromyalgia’s fashion sense, these could be a great gift.
There are tons of really, really ugly supportive shoes out there! But after too much research I’ve been really happy with Clark’s: I have two pairs of dress shoes from them that are actually comfortable enough to get through a wedding in. (I am in no way sponsored by them, though if they want to send me free shoes I certainly wouldn’t say no.) I even found some sneakers that are pretty nice and definitely not so ugly it makes me want to cry. And hallelujah, I can stand in them without my foot punishing me for the next week+.
Have you found a brand that makes supportive shoes that aren’t atrociously ugly? PLEASE tell me where the heck to buy them.
- The combo of supportive shoes and shoe inserts/insoles make a massive difference for me in how often and how bad my plantar fasciitis flares up and how my joints feel the day after standing a lot. They may not be a sexy gift, but they sure help.
- Gel anti-fatigue mat: For any kind of standing, these lil guys are a must. If your friend with fibro doesn’t have one of these in their kitchen, then bam, perfect gift.
- Shower chairs! Standing up to take a shower can be too much sometimes. You can get super affordable ones, or spend a little more to get something that looks really nice.
Protecting Your Senses
Avoiding fibro flareups is a learning process, but here are some things that may help.
- Attenuating Ear Plugs: Reduce noise-induced headaches.
- Weather/barometric pressure earplugs: reduce migraines caused by weather change. I’ve seen a million ads for Loop but WeatherX is my gold standard.
- Special Phone Grip: easier on the hands than normal or popout phone cases
- Masks: Whether they’re N-95s or not, masks not only protect against germs, but also against aggravating stuff like pollution or perfumes. I have one of these particulate-filtering bad boys and it’s the only mask I wear anymore.
- Personal Weather Station: Helps track pressure systems and predict pain. Ranges from extremely digital to decidedly low-tech.
- Light-filtering glasses: Helps prevent and minimize headaches and migraines. This can be huge: I have a pair of these and they really do make a difference. I got a pair of Axons Migraine Glasses in a swag bag at RetreatMigraine long ago that I absolutely rely on during migraines– here’s an exhaustive runthrough on the science behind them, and migraine glasses in general. But they ain’t cheap. If those are more than you can spend for a gift, check out the more affordable options at Zenni. While I wouldn’t call them exactly equivalent, they do have an entire line of blue-light-blocking glasses— even if your friends don’t have migraines, they’ll make their eyes feel less tired. (If you buy anything from Zenni, please go through this affiliate link— maybe I can earn a nickel!)
When someone has fallen behind and just can’t catch up, the gift of a housecleaning can feel life-changing. Whether you hire someone or do it yourself, a couple hours of help getting their space cleaned can greatly improve a person with fibro’s physical AND emotional state. Sometimes you’re just crushed by all you need to do and need someone else to come in and help you get out from under it.
But until the housecleaner gets there, these items can make things easier.
- Laundry Tote with Handles: Easier to carry for those with hand pain.
- Folding Stools: Put one wherever you need extra stability or less time standing: bedroom, shower, kitchen, whatever. If you’re going to be using it often, consider getting one with a backrest.
- This is the vacuum I have, and I absolutely love it.
Going Past Tense
- Weighted Neck & Shoulder Heating Pad: Targets neck and shoulder areas with heat.
- Manual Trigger Point Neck & Back Massager: The company that originally created these is called Theracane, though there are now tons of imitators. A weird-shaped thing that is absolutely invaluable, especially if you are a single person. You can also put Icy Hot, Biofreeze or Tiger Balm on it for extra oomph!
- Electric heated neck and back massager: it heats, it kneads, just don’t expect it to make you bread.
- Massage gun: there’s always one of these on sale somewhere. Get one with as many interchangable tips as you can.
- Wand massager (sometimes called ‘personal massager’): Yes, you can use these for other things too, but it can help tense muscles and migraine pain.
This amazing doc has a whole bit where para- and quadriplegic guys discuss the actual mechanics of how they have sex
- Ice Pack Shoulder, Sleeve, Glove, or foot/ankle wrap: Soothes pain with cold therapy.
- Or just get a giant ice pack and use it everywhere.
- Microwavable rice heating pad: The warm heat from a rice bag is way better for fibro than the dry heat of a plugin heating pad or blanket (though those have their uses!)
While all these are nice, there’s no substitute for an actual massage therapist or other specialist trained in body work. (Don’t go to a chiropractor. For the love of all that is good and/or holy, don’t go to a chiropractor.) But paying for a massage would be an amazing gift for people with fibromyalgia.
Filling the long hours: arts, crafts, and exercise
Shopping for someone stuck at home? Think about an art or craft that they’ll enjoy. For instance, I knit, draw, and would like to get back into collaging. I enjoy the process a lot (and so does my aunt, frequent recipient of my scarves) and it does the dual duty of distracting me from my pain and helping my ADHD brain focus (I don’t know if i would have made it through college without knitting during class).
However, it’s SUPER important that your gift recipient takes breaks when learning a new skill, especially one with repetitive motions like knitting, crocheting or cross-stitch. I learned this one the hard way ! Get up every 20 minutes, stretch, and start slow until you know how your body will react– good advice for any new activity, really.
The challenge is finding gifts for people with fibromyalgia that keep their brains occupied and involved, even if they’re stuck in the same place on the same couch day in and day out. So I also do less artsy stuff: I play video games, I watch movies & TV and read a lot of books and graphic novels. (have you read my post on disability in Star Trek or my review of a graphic novel about pain?), I enjoy a nice crossword.
What do they enjoy that will get them moving? This one’s a little harder, especially depending on the pain level of the person you’re shopping for. But if there’s something physically that they enjoy, it can make a massive difference in the amount of exercise they get– and just about all of us with fibro could use more exercise.
Exercising is extra hard for people with fibromyalgia: read about the relationship between pain and weight –and why it shouldn’t make you feel bad
Pillows: More Important Than You Think
If they’re just using whatever was on sale, a high-quality specialized pillow is one of the very best gifts you can give to someone with fibromyalgia or other chronic pain conditions that affect sleep quality.
- Check out all the unique pillow options! A Leg Bolster (or half-bolster), Boyfriend Pillow or Wedge Pillow may look odd but could greatly help someone with fibro get to sleep. (Or, uh, help them get a little… action… with a less pain.)
- Get pillows for that support their style of sleep: as a side sleeper I use one of these for my head and these between my knees. Mine just looks like a regular pillow; I’ve never tried the fancy-shaped ones but they seem like they’d work!
- Does your gift recipient have curly or wavy hair? Consider satin pillowcases! They made a surprisingly big difference in my amount of hair frizz.
- And don’t forget about inflatable pillows! You don’t have to blow them up, nowadays they’ll inflate on their own. These can be invaluable gifts for people with fibromyalgia to throw in their bag when travelling or running around town so that it’s always there when needed.
Finally nodding off
Sleep (or lack thereof) is a huge factor for those of us with fibro. Check out my full post about chronic pain and trouble sleeping, then take a look at the items below.
- Heated Mattress Pad: Offers multiple settings for personalized comfort.
- Memory foam bed topper: Instead of a normal mattress, I just use a mattress topper. It’s a harder surface, cheaper, and works great.
- Air filter, earplugs or white noise machine to keep things quiet
- Journal, book or graphic novel (like this graphic novel about pain, Pain is Really Strange!) Someone recently recommended the Book Seat Book Cushion as a solution for holding up heavy hardbacks (or tablets, or whatever) and it seems like a great idea.
The Most Important Gift for People With Fibromyalgia? Understanding.
This guide focuses on practicality and comfort, recommending gifts for people with fibromyalgia that can make their day-to-day life easier. But remember, the thoughtfulness and care behind a gift are what makes it truly special.
Have you come up with any great gifts ideas for a friend with fibro– or do you have something you’d love to receive? Comment and let me know!
All links are Amazon affiliate links, because why not? But if you have a small local store I’d prefer you go there.
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