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December 03, 2019

The Monthly Migraine: Seven gift ideas for loved ones with chronic pain

Health Stories The Monthly Migraine
Monthly Migraine gift guide CBD massage Christin Hume/

A CBD massage is a great gift for people with chronic pain.

Oh boy, it’s gift guide season! We’ve got guides for mom, teachers and cat ladies. We've even got goop-filled guides for wellness nerds, you name it.

What I haven’t seen are many guides for loved ones with a chronic illness or chronic pain.

Gift guides for people with a chronic illness or pain are important because there are so many items we can’t have. I have various alcohols and a pile of lotions and perfumes gifted to me that I can’t use because they will trigger a migraine attack. It’s not anyone’s fault — I don’t expect people to remember every single thing I can or cannot have — but having more gift guide examples would help all involved.

Below are some gifts I’d personally love for my chronic illness. I’m sure your chronically ill loved one would dig ‘em just as much as I do. 


Massages are great to begin with, so we’re kicking things up with a little CBD. I know everyone’s relationship with CBD is different: Some don’t see a difference while others swear by CBD. I haven’t found major success with incorporating CBD into migraine maintenance, but I know it helps other people manage stress and pain. For those it helps, I recommend gifting them a CBD massage session. There are plenty of massage therapy businesses in Philadelphia that offer CBD, including Sanctuary on 2nd, Medicinally Jointed, Spa Terme Di Aroma and more.


If your migraineur loved one does not have their very own Icekap yet, it’s up to you to fix that. For years, I strategically positioned ice packs on and around my head, staying still so they wouldn't fall off. Icekap solves all of that. It’s a helmet/hat you keep in the freezer. Within the helmet are little ice packs, placed where your head needs them most. 

“I created Icekap after 20 years of suffering myself,” Icekap Chief Executive Officer Andrea Jones said. “I suffered so badly from migraines that I ended up being tested in a variety of ways for potentially having a brain tumor. I was very sick. I had been dreaming about creating the perfect cooling compress cap for my sickness for years, until one day when my daughter was two years old, I finally did it. The Icekap was born!”

The product is amazing for sleeping and gives you all-over head coverage. I love my Icekap so much that I recently asked for a second for my birthday this year.


You know you have a chronic illness when you have more closet space for your sweats than the rest of your clothing. When things get bad, we turn to sweats. There’s no reason to be laying down in jeans and a bra (I get anxious just thinking about that level of discomfort) when beautiful, glorious sweats are available. Tailor your blessed gift of sweats to the person’s interest. And since this is a Philadelphia-based guide, Shibe offers Philadelphia sports gear you won’t find anywhere else.


There’s something the right plant can do for a home. However, certain houseplants are way too easy to kill, and when you have a chronic illness or live with chronic pain, houseplants become even easier to kill. Luckily, Susanne Collins from City Planter knows the best low-maintenance plants for those who can’t offer a lot of attention and care.

“Plants can boost people's mood by adding real, living greenery to a space," Collins said. “There are lots of scientific studies that suggest that having plants in your space can increase focus and help increase endorphins. Not to mention the obvious, they are aesthetically pleasing!”

While succulents may come to mind for low-maintenance plants, Collins said succulents have very specific light needs, and instead, recommended picking up a sansevieria (snake plant) or a ZZ plant. Collins warned that in rare cases, sansevieria can produce fragrant flowers that may be difficult for those with smell sensitivities. However, both plants only need to be watered once a month and can survive in a variety of light options.

“For folks who have chronic pain and might not be able to water their plants as often, these are a great option,” Collins said. “In addition, because they can survive in low light, it is totally fine for these plants to close your shades if you are experiencing a migraine and need to be in the dark.”


When I had a migraine during a speaking event in 2018, I turned to cryotherapy to help get me through the day. I had never tried cryo for pain before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The results were great — the treatment kept my migraine at bay for almost three hours. I have only done cryotherapy for acute pain and can’t tell you the benefits of regular visits and maintenance. However, Ashley Long, LE and manager at C.R.Y.O. Philadelphia, has the answers.

“Cryotherapy helps with chronic pain by reducing overall inflammation in the body (a huge source of pain)," Long said. "With continued cold exposure, your body's immune system gets stronger and builds 'muscle memory,' therefore making each treatment that much more effective. Relief varies as everybody is unique. It depends on the severity of the chronic condition, injury, and age. That said, most people say they feel amazing after each treatment and that feeling only gets better the more treatments they have.”


Just like sweats, we use a lot of blankets. The fluffier and cozier the better — and don’t skimp on size! A good blanket should devour my entire body. Get us a blanket and watch us rip into it and wrap it around our shoulders as soon as we get it. For real. That’s how serious we take our comfort.


Anyone who has experienced a chronic illness knows how hard leaving the house is. When you have board games, it’s a simple way to be social in the comfort of your home. There are many times where I’m well enough to hang out at home but the idea of going into the sun or putting on anything other than sweats is too much. I talked to Matt Hendricks, board game expert and owner of Thirsty Dice, Philadelphia’s first board game cafe. According to Hendricks, Timeline is a great gift for a chronically ill pal.

Timeline features a themed deck of cards with different dated events like music and cinema, inventions and other famous historical moments. The challenge is to put them together chronologically, while debating the dates with fellow players.

“It often provokes an interesting series of conversations,” Hendricks said.

Board games are a great way to be social in a low-key way. And if your pain flares up badly? Just kick everyone out!

The Monthly Migraine is a series dedicated to migraine awareness and support. If you suffer from chronic migraines, you are not alone and we hope to amplify your voice through these pieces. Lindsay Patton-Carson can be reached on Twitter @LindsayPatton.

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