Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack joints in the body. This disease causes chronic inflammation and symptoms like joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. Since RA can affect different joints — including those in the fingers and hands — living with this condition can interfere with daily life.
Depending on the severity of inflammation, some people have trouble completing everyday tasks.
If you’re looking for a gift for someone who has RA, you may want to get them something that makes their life a little easier. We reached out to our RA Facebook group for advice on the best gifts to get someone with RA. Here’s what they said:
Since soaking in a warm bath can relieve pain and stiffness caused by RA, someone living with chronic joint inflammation may appreciate Epsom salts. Epsom salts contain magnesium sulfate crystals that can increase magnesium levels by as much as 35 percent.
Magnesium is a key mineral in the body and promotes bone and muscle health. A magnesium deficiency can cause cramps, pain, and weakness.
Epsom salts are inexpensive and can be found in grocery stores. You can also buy Epsom salts with lavender, which provides extra help with relaxing and sleeping well.
Compression gloves or socks
Fingerless compression gloves are often recommended by occupational therapists. This type of glove can improve blood circulation and increase hand performance in people with RA. Studies have also shown that compression relieves stiffness and swelling caused by RA.
Opening a jar can be difficult for people with moderate to severe RA, especially when the disease attacks the joints in the fingers and hands. Jar openers make the task easier. These assistant devices are a terrific gift for people with RA who have limited hand strength.
Touch light socket
Flicking a lamp switch may seem like a simple task, but it can be painful and challenging for people with RA because it requires fine motor skills. Touch light sockets solve this problem. These devices convert any lamp with metal sockets into a touch lamp.
Warm wool socks
Cold temperatures can worsen arthritis pain and stiffness. This can lead to sore feet and make it hard to walk or stand. Warm wool socks that are lightweight can keep feet warm, which can ease arthritic pain and loosen joints.
Keeping the body warm is important while sleeping. A cold sleeping environment can cause morning stiffness and pain, making it harder for someone with RA to get out of bed. Since comforters don’t always provide adequate warmth, people living with RA may benefit from an electric blanket. They’ll stay warm during the night and wake up with less pain.
Paraffin hand station
Since moist heat can relieve RA pain and stiffness, another gift idea is a paraffin hand dipping station. The gift recipient dips their hands into the wax, covers their hands with a plastic bag and towel, and then removes the wax after several minutes.
Soap and conditioner dispenser
Stiff, painful joints can make it difficult to squeeze bottles. So it can be challenging for someone living with RA to squeeze soap or shampoo from a tube. As an alternative, pump dispensers which don’t require a lot of hand strength may be helpful.
Electric can opener
Using a manual can opener takes hand strength, which someone with RA may not have during a flare-up. The inability to use a can opener can interfere with preparing meals. An electric can opener is easier on the hands and joints.
Chopping or slicing food is a kitchen challenge that can affect people with RA. A food dicer is an RA-friendly gift that eliminates pain while cooking. Dicers can chop potatoes, onions, cucumbers, bell peppers, apples, and more.
Heated mattress cover
If you can’t find a heating pad or an electric blanket, a heated mattress cover is another gift option for someone with RA. It’s the perfect bedroom addition because it provides full body relief. The heat from the mattress pad relieves pain and stiffness in the hands, feet, legs, and back. It also combats morning stiffness.
Straightening hair brush
If you don’t have RA, you may not realize how the disease restricts styling hair. When hand and finger joints become painful and swollen, everyday tasks like brushing and straightening hair becomes too difficult.
The longer people with RA use their hands, the more their hands hurt. Using a hair straightening brush reduces the time it takes to style hair, which can lessen joint pain.
Weighted blankets are often used by people who have anxiety and sleep disorders. There is evidence that using a weighted blanket improves the quality of sleep. Studies have shown that people with RA experience more pain when they haven’t slept well. Since weighted blankets can improve sleep, they may also reduce pain associated with RA.
Because of pain and limited hand strength, it can be difficult for people with RA to hold a book or turn pages for long periods of time. An e-reader is the perfect gift because it is lightweight and easier to hold. The recipient can prop the e-reader on their legs or lap for hands-free enjoyment.
Massage gift certificate
Treat someone with RA to a Swedish massage. Massages manipulate soft tissues to improve blood circulation and promote relaxation, which can reduce pain and tension. Swedish massages use moderate pressure. According to one study, people with RA who received moderate pressure massages reported less pain, increased mobility, and improved grip strength.
People with RA should avoid deep tissue massage. This type of therapy may trigger inflammation and worsen symptoms of RA.
Cleaning the house takes muscle strength and energy, which can be difficult for a person with RA. As a result, they may get behind on household chores like mopping, vacuuming, or laundry. If you can’t lend a helping hand yourself, offer the gift of a one-time or regular cleaning service.
Float tank gift certificate
Float tanks offer rest, relaxation, and stress relief. Look for local spas offering float therapy. This type of therapy can provide a natural remedy for arthritis pain and stiffness. Tanks are filled with salt water which makes it easier to float comfortably. Studies have found that flotation therapy decreases stress, anxiety, depression, and pain while improving sleep quality.
Audiobook and e-book gift card
Your loved one can download an audio or electronic book directly to their smartphone or tablet. Then they can listen hands-free while resting their joints.
There are many ways to show you care that don’t involve spending money. RA affects everyone differently, so what helps one person might not help another. Don’t be afraid to get creative, and remember that creating memories can be an even better gift than a material object. Plan day trips, such as a day in the city or a drive through the country.
Living with a chronic condition can take up a lot of time and energy. Sometimes the best gift is just spending time together. Take some time to listen and learn more about the condition. And unless your loved one expresses an interest, skip RA-themed books, cups, or mugs.
People who have RA want to be treated as more than their condition. You can’t go wrong by listening to them and giving from the heart.