Living with Chronic Pain

Tips for Independent Dressing While Living With Chronic Pain


Performing routine daily tasks with a chronic pain condition can be overwhelming. Symptoms, such as sore hands, stiff joints, mobility issues, chronic fatigue and limited range of motion can affect an individual’s ability to perform one of the most common activities of the day — getting dressed.

Some tips to make getting dressed a little easier include the following:


Choosing clothes that are simple to take on and off is a good first step. Stretchy fabrics and elastic waists are accommodating and comfortable, and shirts with large openings for the arms and head are easier to put on the body.

Assistive tools

Assistive tools are also available for purchase to help individuals with chronic pain conditions dress independently:

  • Zipper pullers and button hooks
    A zipper puller is a fat-handled tool with a hook for pulling zippers. It is a helpful tool for individuals with arthritic hands. A button fastener is a fat-handled tool that has a metal hook to help manage buttons. It is also helpful for individuals with arthritic hands.
  • Touch (hook-and-loop) fasteners
    Hook-and-loop fasteners contain a material that only requires a gentle pat to put together and a pull to separate. It is an affordable product that can be purchased in craft stores.
  • Sock pullers
    A sock puller is a helpful tool. It requires slipping a sock over the plastic end, placing it on the floor, placing the foot in position and pulling two straps. Socks slide on easily with a sock puller.
  • Adaptive clothing
    Adaptive clothing is specially designed for individuals with limited dexterity or mobility.
  • Chairs
    When getting dressed, having a chair nearby is a good idea for when a break is needed or for individuals with balance issues.


The feet carry the full weight of the body. Because the feet can be affected by certain chronic pain conditions, choosing the right footwear is important. The first priority when purchasing footwear is finding a good fit. Buying footwear with arch support and cushioned soles is a good idea. Custom-made orthotic footwear and inserts are also available to help reduce foot pain.

Putting on shoes can be a complicated task for individuals with chronic pain; manipulating the body to put on shoes can aggravate stiff joints and cause pain. Here are a few tips if putting on footwear is a difficult task:

  • Slip-on shoes or shoes with touch fasteners
    These types of shoes are easy to put on and take off the foot.
  • Coil shoelaces
    Coil shoelaces do not need to be tied. They are springy ties that stay where they are put.
  • Long-handled shoe horns
    Long-handled shoe horns make it possible to put on shoes without bending the body. They are available for purchase, or they can be made at home by securely taping a small shoe-horn onto a yardstick.
  • Chairs
    Sitting in a chair can make putting on shoes easier, especially for individuals with balance issues.
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