For someone who lives with chronic pain, simple tools and treatments can provide the ultimate gifts—less pain, reduced stress, and more comfort.

Check out these five pain relief gift ideas and tools for tight muscles:

  • Gift certificates for massages are always the right size for every body. Drop a few strategic hints and find out if your friend already uses a massage therapist. If she does, pay for a session (or two) that she can schedule at her convenience. If she doesn't, ask around for recommendations. Be sensitive to whether your friend prefers a therapist of her own gender. Make sure the person you choose is a certified massage therapist and find out if they specialize working with athletes, people who have chronic pain, or have had surgeries or illnesses. Take the gift a little farther by offering to drive your friend to and from her massage or pay for a taxi.
  • Gift certificates for acupuncture. Maybe your friend is already familiar with acupuncture or Traditional Chinese Medicine. Maybe he's curious but never tried it and maybe it's not even on his radar. Springing for a session or two with a skilled acupuncturist might be all he needs to get him started on a whole new wellness program. Acupuncture uses tiny needles and sometimes also herbal remedies to unblock the flow of energy throughout the body. While many Westerners and Americans are skeptical about how and why acupuncture works to relieve pain, reduce stress, and promote wellness, studies prove it works for a wide variety of conditions, including pain management. You can log on to the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine to find a practitioner in your area or ask your physician, friends, or family for recommendations.

If outsourcing your pain relief gift to a professional isn't an option, try these inexpensive home options:

  • Create a home spa. Nothing soothes sore muscles better than a soak in the tub. Make your own gift certificate and provide everything your loved one needs to indulge herself: Fill up the bath, light some candles, add some Epsom salts or bath oil, put on some soothing music, and take the kids out to the playground for an hour or two.
  • Give a foot massage or shoulder rub. Pick up some massage oil at the store or create your own by mixing olive oil with a few drops of scented essential oil. Then, help your loved one relax on the bed or in a chair and gently massage away her stress and pain. Ask for guidance as to how much pressure to use and be sensitive to her cues as to whether your massage is hurting or helping.
  • Make a rice sock that can be heated in the microwave and used to relieve sore muscles. Start with two strips of fabric approximately 6 inches wide and 18 inches long and stitch them together on three sides. Fill with dry rice and a few grains of lavender and stitch the fourth side together. Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute (can be reheated many times) and drape it around your friend's shoulders, leg, or wherever she feels pain.

Sometimes the best gift you can give someone is the gift of your presence, patience and support as they take the time they need to heal, and that's a gift that keeps on giving.

Dr. Laura Washington, Naturopathic Physician reviewed this article.