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8 Awesome Gifts Under $15 for People With Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

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Have you ever been given a gift that a friend or family was excited about because they just knew it would be perfect for your condition? I have, and let me tell you, it was difficult figuring out how to respond. Sometimes they hit it perfectly, while other times the gift is completely unusable. Usually I try to smile, say thank you and tell them how much I appreciate them thinking about my chronic pain condition. I have complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), a severe neurological condition that makes my brain interpret all stimuli as painful ones. Friends and family don’t experience CRPS pain on a daily basis, so it’s understandable that loved ones won’t always know what is actually a good gift. Additionally, them genuinely wanting to help out is very sweet, and that should always be noted! Trying is better than not caring at all.

Complex regional pain syndrome can be a very difficult condition to shop for, even when you are the one grappling with it, like myself. Sometimes I feel silly for meticulously touching and feeling various fabric types to test for level of softness, but it’s a valid search. As someone with CRPS, my aim is to direct the focus of this article to the friends and family of people with CRPS, in the effort to make shopping a little stressful and uncertain and more likely to be successful. I’ll start with a few tips on what to look for in potential CRPS-friendly presents, and follow with eight things that have been great for my full-body pain flares. This would be good place to start for anyone shopping with a similar objective, and are all less than $15.

What to Look For in a Gift

  • Ask your friend/family member what they need, what they can or can’t tolerate and what known triggers might be. For instance, a trigger of mine is repetitive motion, so any activity like knitting is impossible. Friends and family therefore know not to get me anything similar to knitting that requires lots of hand movement. If your friend/family member gets very specific about a certain shirt or appliance, ask them why they are so specific — often that particular object is something they know they can handle.
  • Think baby-level soft when picking out anything with fabric, whether that’s clothing or house linens. Keep in mind that what feels soft to you might not feel so soft for someone with CRPS. Soft things are very important; even though we have days when any fabric is almost intolerable, soft fabric is always better than rough fabric.
  • Anything that vibrates and is something we’d have to sit on, hold or touch in any way might not be the best option. Many with CRPS can’t tolerate even the slightest vibration.

Gift Ideas

green fuzzy socks and pink fuzzy gloves

Fluffy socks and gloves are perfect for bad hand or feet flares!

1. Fluffy gloves. Extremely soft gloves are an accessory I’ve found to be perfect for times in the house when my hands get very cold or feel like they’ve been stripped raw, which makes it painful to touch anything. The gloves protect me from touching other things, and they are soft enough not to cause extra pain.

2. Go-to comfort item on bad pain days. When I have a bad pain day, I cope by drinking hot cocoa, wearing super-soft clothing and watching kids’ movies all day. Kids’ movies are typically my go-to pain day movies because they won’t trigger anxiety or migraines, and they help relax me with laughter. What does your CRPS friend do on their bad days? Find out and you may get a tip on something that will always be a reliable go-to gift.

3. Epsom salts with lavender scent. Check to see if your friend has a bathtub or a foot tub, and if they do, this may be a great gift for them!
Many people with CRPS enjoy long soaks in Epsom salts and see a marked difference in flares and symptoms following a soak.

4. Face caddy. This wrap is specially designed for people with TMJ, migraines, facial pain or those recovering from dental procedures. It holds two cold/hot packs, one on either side of your face, and velcros at the top of your head. I love it! It lets me keep cold packs on my jaw without having to hold them the entire time. The wrap fabric is probably medium level soft, maybe rougher to someone with more severe facial pain, but it might be possible to attach a softer fabric to the wrap if needed.

5. Aloe-infused socksI love these! Aloe-infused socks are easy to find in pharmacies and clothing stores alike, and they’re extremely soft! Being infused with aloe helps moisturize the skin, and unusually dry skin can be a side effect of CRPS. Plus, the socks come in fun colors so the wearer can feel awesome while trying to calm that hot coal feeling on their flaring feet.

6. Gift cards to favorite stores. Gift cards may seem tacky to some, but they are a great way to ensure that the recipient gets something that will work for them based on their pain levels. Additionally, a gift card to a place they frequent such as the grocery store, a hair salon or pet store can help them get things they need. Financial stress can be a problem for many disabled people, even if they do have government assistance, so a simple thing like a gift card that could cover all or most of a grocery trip one week would be a fantastic gift.

7. Happy wrap. This is a flax seed and lavender-filled pouch that is great, cold or hot, for migraines or general face pain. The wrap’s fabric is very smooth and the flax seed filling helps it conform to your face.

person washing dishes in the sink

Helping with housework would be an excellent gift!

8. Homemade gift card redeemable for chores and other helpful tasks. I know that for me, it’s really hard to ask for help sometimes, and the best gift would be if someone offered to help me do something that would cause me a major flare-up, such as cleaning the house. People with CRPS are often ashamed to ask for help doing simple things like washing dishes, because we want to not be sick and know we look “normal.” I often struggle to get things done around the house so I can feel like an equal partner in my relationship, and that can easily result in more flares. So it may seem simple or strange to you, but I guarantee that if, instead of a traditional present this year, you offer to go over one day and vacuum the whole house or do some other task, it would be one of the best gifts your friend could receive.

Shopping within CRPS limitations can be a difficult task if you go in blind. Ask your loved one what they need, what “luxury” items they want but may feel guilty for buying and how best you might help them this holiday season. Hopefully the tips provided give you a better idea of where to start, and the specific gifts listed may lead you to the perfect present. Keep in mind though that the things which work well for my pain might not work for someone else, as CRPS affects everyone differently, so you might want to check with your friend before settling on something.

Happy shopping and happy holidays!

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Originally published: December 16, 2016
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