Chronic Pain-Friendly Jewelry

I’ve been writing a mini-series about personal care and chronic illness. Two weeks ago, I wrote about accessible make-up design ideas to make your getting-ready space work for you. Last week, I shared some of my go-to shower tips to make getting ready just a little less exhausting. I’m excited to delve into something fun today: jewelry!

Some days we just want to look the part: hair, make-up, jewelry… But if you live with chronic pain, tremors, or dexterity challenges, you know that putting on jewelry can be an impossible or painful task. Between the small pieces and fine motor skills needed, sometimes it’s just not worth the effort.

If that has been your experience, it might be time to try some jewelry that’s a little outside the box. There are dozens of styles that aren’t fiddly or pain-inducing, but still reflect your personality. Here are a few ideas to get you started.


Five pendant necklaces with geometric stones and leather tassels. Links to Etsy seller.
A series of five leather tassel necklaces are laid out on a white wood background. Each necklace has a gold chain and a geometric gemstone pendant, with colored tassel hanging from a gold attachment. The first necklace has square light rose-colored gemstone and olive tassel; the second, turquoise octagonal stone with orange tassel; the third, dark rose oval stone with turquoise tassel; the fourth has light turquoise oval stone and mustard tassel; and the last has white square stone with rose tassel.

The easiest solution to avoid messing with tiny clasps is to choose a long necklace that fits easily over the head. There are many options out there, from sophisticated fine chains to leather materials to boho necklaces such as these. Long necklaces are versatile, too, and perfect with plain t-shirts and shorts, sheath dresses, layered over a blouse or sweater, or tucked under a jacket or blazer. They’re an easy way to add some style without pain or hassle.

Image of sterling silver hammered cuff necklace, with link to Etsy seller.
A solid sterling silver bangle necklace is shown. The surface is hammered, with facets that reflect the light. The necklace is semi-circle in shape and fixed, with a small opening at the back. It is approximately a half inch wide, and narrows slightly at the opening. We see the necklace on a glassy black surface.

Another great solution is a cuff, or bangle, necklace. These necklaces have a fixed shape that fits around the contour of the neck. An opening in the back allows the necklace to be slid into place without having to deal with clasps. Necklaces like this come in all styles and finishes, and they are an elegant addition to any outfit.

Image of a silver wrap necklace with link to Etsy seller.
A silver chain lariat necklace is shown on a black rectangular display board. On one end of the chain, there is a wide silver hoop, with a long narrow post pendant passing through the opening.

For a unique look, a lariat necklace is a wonderful option. Styles vary from a more refined look like this one to boho chic looks with gemstone pendants. They come in metal finishes, leather, bead, and many other options. While a lariat necklace requires some fine motor skills, the large opening through which the chain passes makes it a little easier to manage.

Image of gold and diamond wrap necklace, with link to Angela Monaco Jewelry site.
A solid gold chain is shown. We see one section of chain doubled, or looped, with two ends of the chain passing through the loop. On the ends of the chain are two small diamonds with gold claw settings. The necklace is shown on a white background.

A wrap necklace is another great option. Typically, these necklaces are simply a length of chain, beading, leather lacing, or other material. They can be wrapped around the neck in many ways: simply draped over the shoulders, tied loosely, wrapped around the neck, or looped such as the necklace above. While wrap necklaces often have a more casual look, a gold option like this one is a more elegant choice (with a higher price point). There are many options available, and they are an easy solution.


Image of two tear drop silver earrings with fixed hook posts, with link to Etsy seller.
Two silver tear-drop shaped hook earrings are shown on a black marbled background. The hook is fixed and a solid part of the earring pendant. There are no backs or clasps on the earrings.

Earrings can be a real challenge, can’t they? Between tiny posts, those fiddly backs, and pendants that get in the way, it can be an impossible task to put earrings in. If you have a hard time with the fine motor required for earrings, you might want to consider earrings with a fixed post. Hook earrings such as these are often easy to put in: the pendant is solid and doesn’t move around, and is one continuous piece with the hooks. The hooks on these earrings are wide and long, making them easy to insert through your ear hole. And there is no back required to keep them in place.

Image of geometric clip on dangling earring, with link to Etsy seller.
A Caucasian woman is seen from the neck up, looking slightly to the side of the image. She has brown hair in a bun, aviator sunglasses, and is smiling slightly with red lipstick. She wears a black v-neck shirt and stands against a white stucco wall. On her right ear, we see a large dangling earring. At its top, there is a turquoise gem stone semi-circle, with flat side up. Over this, we see a smaller white pearl-like circle. Hanging beneath these is a large tortoiseshell hoop.

For a versatile option the requires only a little dexterity, consider clip-on earrings. These were the staple of generations past, and with good reason: they’re easy to use, and don’t require piercing. Even if you have your ears pierced, though, they can be a great choice for flare days or chronic pain. Simply hold the earring in place on the ear and snap the back of the clasp closed. There is no need to line up a post with the piercing hole, apply a fiddly backing, or any other precise movement. Earrings like this are a fun option for something unique, with a little bit of boho and ’90s flair.

Image of silver cuff earring, with link to Etsy seller.
The side of a Caucasian woman’s face is show, with her ear at the center of the shot. She has a cuff earring of sterling silver that has the appearance of a piece of rope looped through her ear, with two ends dangling to her neck.

For a different and stunning option that requires just a little dexterity, consider a cuff earring. There are many different cuff earrings available, and many are meant to be worn high up on the ear. However, there are some (such as this one) that can be worn closer to the ear lobe. The beauty of a cuff earring is that it is very easy to apply: simply hook the top portion over the ear, and tuck the bottom portion under the ear. There is some fine motor skill required for this, but there are no clasps or posts to deal with. A cuff earring is also a great option if you do not have pierced ears, since no hole is required.


Image of gold bangle cuff bracelet, with link to Etsy seller.
A wide gold bangle cuff bracelet rests on a white sweater. The bracelet band appears to twist, with a small opening in the back.

For a bracelet that’s easy to apply without the need for a clasp, nothing beats a cuff bracelet! There are thousands of styles and finishes, and they pair well with any type of outfit. A bracelet like this could be dressed up or down, depending on the outfit. And this set of three allows you to stack the bracelets on your wrist.

Image of multilayer magnetic leather bracelet, with link to Etsy seller.
A Caucasian woman in gauzy white top holds her forearm close to her face displaying a multilayer leather bracelet. There are thin gold and beige strands of leather, with clear white beads and a silver feather pendant.

Another pain-free, beautiful option is a magnetic bracelet. These pieces are easy to clasp with very little strength or dexterity needed, and come in a wide variety of styles and colors. From rustic braided options to multicolor strands to elegant choices like the option above, magnetic bracelets can pair well with almost any outfit and couldn’t be easier to fasten.

Image of seven beaded bracelets, with link to Etsy seller.
A series of seven bracelets hangs from a bamboo post against a white backdrop. The bracelets have small flat square beads in an assortment of jade, light rose, white, maroon, and mustard colors.

Of course, the easiest option for bracelets is to choose a piece with elastic. This allows the bracelet to be slipped easily over your hand with no need for clasps or fasteners. There are many, many options to choose from, including these beautiful boho bracelets.

Fastener Helpers

Image of necklace hook pendant that helps to fasten bracelet, with link to Lizzy James website.
A Caucasian woman’s hands and torso are shown. She wears a white sweater, with a long necklace and bracelet. The necklace has black lacing and a silver pendant with flattened “8” shape. The bottom of the pendant forms a hook. One end of the bracelet is caught in the hook, while the woman holds the other end up to fasten it.

What about that jewelry that you already have and want to enjoy wearing? There are some great options available for taking the pain and struggle out of fastening your existing jewelry. This necklace is a great example. It’s long and easy to slip over your neck. The hook pendant can catch one end of your bracelet (or another necklace), leaving your second hand free to fasten the clasp. While it still requires some dexterity, having one side held in place can be helpful!

Image of soft pink bracelet fastener device, with link to Etsy seller.
A soft pink plastic device is shown. It is roughly egg-shaped, with the lid removed and set off to the side. The bottom piece has a small clasp, and beaded bracelet draped across the top.

Another great option for fastening bracelets is a device like this one. The clip at one end holds one end of the bracelet in place, leaving the second hand free to fasten the bracelet. Again, this requires some dexterity, but makes fastening a bracelet just a little easier.

Image of a clip-on earring device with space for post earring, with link to WikiHow page.
An illustration shows a metal post device. In the first part of the image, we see a curved clip-on earring device with an attachment similar to an earring back, and a small butterfly-shaped earring back. A post earring sits in front of the piece. The second part of the image shows the post earring inserted through the attachment, with the earring back securing it in place.

To make your post earrings easier to wear, you might want to consider clip-on earring attachments. This WikiHow article shows step-by-step instructions for adapting any of your earrings to clip-on. This is a great way to wear all those beautiful earrings that were too hard to insert and fasten without the pain and struggle! There are instructions for post, hook, and dangle earrings included.

Tips for Choosing Chronic Illness-Friendly Footwear for Women

Footwear may not be your first consideration when you think about chronic illness, but the wrong shoe choice can have huge knock-down effects. If you suffer from neuropathy, chronic fatigue, muscle weakness, or exercise intolerance, it pays to keep a few things in mind when choosing your shoes. Here are some points to consider as you select your footwear.


Image shows floral print casual canvas slip-on shoe, and links to DSW website.
A left shoe is shown on a white background. It is a casual canvas slip-on shoe with mustard yellow background and small white flowers scattered throughout with dark gold stems and navy centers. On the inside of the shoe, we read, “Keds” in matching dark gold block.

There are so many ways in which laces and straps can trip us up, aren’t there? There’s the dexterity required, for one. If you suffer from joint pain or trouble with coordination, this may be extremely difficult for you. Then there’s the bending, which can cause all sorts of problems with balance and pain. If any of these factors are an issue for you, then select shoes that are easy to slip on. There are literally thousands of different styles, and none of them have to look like what I call “elderly shoes.” Find a style that you like, and that reflects your personality!

I love this particular pair for a few reasons. For one, they typically come at a reasonable price point. They tend to be well-made and comfortable. The soles are sturdy without being rigid, to make them easy to walk in. And these shoes are not particularly heavy, and they don’t slide around on my feet. When I am in a bad flare-up, I have to be very mindful about wearing shoes that don’t stay put. If I have to grip with my toes to keep shoes in place, it depletes my energy and muscle strength much faster. Likewise with shoes that are very heavy. This brand offers this style in a multitude of colors and patterns. A couple of years ago they even had shoes printed with Archie comics, which of course I bought!

Image of black and white geometric woven flat shoe, and links to Skechers website.
A black and white ballet flat with pointed toe has woven geometric pattern. We see the right show set on white background.

It’s hard to beat a ballet flat for easy-on! There are many options out there that reflect just about any personal style. As you choose your pair, make sure you are selecting something that will stay put securely on your foot without sliding around, and that feels comfortable with long use. If you suffer from pain in your feet, it’s wise to consider a pair with some built-in cushion or arch support. This pair has a memory foam layer, is machine washable, and vegan–talk about ticking all the boxes!


Image of medium gray lace-up ankle boot, links to Famous Footwear site.
An ankle boot in hiking boot style has wide black foam sole with leather trim. The body of the shoe is made of soft gray wool-like material with off-white fleece tongue, and there is gray and white lacing through metal rings. We see the right shoe on a white background.

If you think about how much time is spent in shoes each day, it’s no wonder that uncomfortable or heavy shoes can take their toll, especially with chronic illness or disability issues. For me, a heavy shoe is a deal-breaker. My legs tend to feel like cement blocks after any exertion without shoes, so adding actual weight to my feet makes it incredibly difficult for me. When I am choosing shoes, weight is always a consideration. This doesn’t mean I can only wear flimsy, lightweight shoes. Instead, I choose styles made from alternative materials that aren’t quite so heavy. These boots, for example, are fuzzy and sturdy, but the foam sole makes them lightweight. If heavy shoes are an issue for you, I encourage you not to buy online so that you can pick up the shoes for yourself and test them out. If they feel heavy in your hand, they will probably make life difficult on your feet.

Image of black and white lightweight athletic shoe, with link to Macy's website.
A predominantly black lightweight athletic shoe has crisscrossed white stitching along side and leather-look black toe. There is elastic lacing over the tongue of the shoe, and wide white rubber sole. The right shoe is shown on white background.

Athletic shoes are another potential pitfall when it comes to overall weight. Many have dense rubber soles or are made from bulky materials that add unnecessary heaviness. When you are choosing an athletic shoe, opt for something with a lightweight foam sole and meshy fabrics that are breezy and don’t add much weight. This shoe would pair well with athletic clothes, jeans, or just about anything. As an added bonus, there are no laces to tie on this pair. If joint pain or dexterity issues make tying laces a challenge for you, this is a great option! One word of caution, however, if you struggle with muscle fatigue or weakness. The inability to tighten and adjust the laces on this particular pair might make for a loose fit, and nothing is more exhausting to those feet and lower legs than shoes that slide around and have to be gripped. Make sure you can get a good fit with whatever shoe you choose!

Secure, Effortless Fit

Image of women's brown leather camel colored gladiator sandals, with link to Etsy seller.
A woman is wearing camel colored brown leather gladiator style sandals. We see only her ankles and feet. She wears dark jeans and navy blue toenail polish, and her feet rest on a white marble wall.

We all want to be able to wear strappy, airy shoes when the weather turns hot. But sandals can be a particular challenge, as there’s not much material there to hold them in place. I find I can’t wear any shoe that is held on just by the toes, such as flip flops or sandals without backs. It’s just too much work to grip, and it wears me out. If this is an issue for you, then I would recommend finding a pair that has a strap around the back of the foot, or that straps securely to the front of your foot. Something like this pair would do the trick well, and is versatile enough to be worn with shorts, dresses, or jeans. If you have foot pain, you might also consider finding a pair with some padding or built-in arch support. The thin soles on sandals make them especially likely to cause foot pain.

Image of burgundy and white high heel, with link to Poshmark site.
A right burgundy and white t-strap low pump is seen on a white background. The body of the shoe is white, with burgundy oxford-style toe, burgundy heel, and burgundy trim around shoe and on t-strap. The inside of the shoe is light brown leather.

What do we do about heels, ladies? If you suffer from any of the conditions I’ve described, you may feel your days of wearing cute high heels are behind you. Hold on! Not so fast! You may still be able to wear those stunning shoes to set off your outfit… When you are purchasing a shoe with a heel, there are a few things to consider. For one, you will want to find a shoe that can fasten securely to your foot, so that you aren’t wasting energy sliding around and gripping. A t-strap shoe is a great option for this, since it provides support in more than one place on your foot. You will also want to consider heel height. If you are mid-flare-up, or have significant pain, it may not be the right time to bring out those four-inch heels. It’s just too difficult sometimes to balance, keep the shoe in place, and manage pain levels. If this is the case for you, then stick to heels that are three inches or less, as they tend to be a little safer. Chunkier heels are easier for balance, so I would avoid a stiletto heel if this is a potential challenge. Finally, think about the support the shoe offers. If possible, choose a heel that has some cushion and arch support–both for comfort, and to improve the fit of the shoe. I recently purchased these heels in black and white from Chase and Chloe, and, wow! They are adorable, for starters. The strap holds my foot securely in place. The heel is a comfortable height, so I don’t struggle to keep my balance and use energy unnecessarily. And the fit is probably the most comfortable I’ve ever had in a high heel. I’m back in a flare-up again and using my cane these days, and I’m considering adjusting my cane height up and wearing these shoes. I never would have considered that in the past, but they are comfortable enough that I will be giving it a try!

I hope these ideas have given you some points to consider as you choose your footwear. It’s possible to retain your personal style without compromising on function. Get creative, and find shoes that work for you!

Alternative Medical Jewelry for Men

It can be challenging to find medical alert jewelry that doesn’t look strictly clinical, especially for men. If you are a man who doesn’t accessorize much, this can be especially challenging. Here are some stunning alternative options for having the important information on you at all times, without compromising on personality or style.

Image shows two wooden dog tag medical alert necklaces with stamped diagnoses and logo, and link to Etsy seller.
Image shows two wooden dog-tag shaped necklaces (front and back views) with black leather lacing on white background. A sprig of lavender is seen in the background on the right side. The first tag has engraved medical caduceus symbol and stamped letters, “R-S.” The second necklace, the back view, reads in bold block imprinted lettering, “Type 1 Diabetes.” Beneath this in lighter block type, we read “Allergic to Penicillin.”

A new twist on the traditional dog tag, these wooden necklaces with leather lacing are a great option for medical alert wear. They are contemporary and masculine, and have enough space to include multiple diagnoses or alerts. These tags are customizable and come in a variety of wood types.

Image shows a metal octagonal medical alert necklace pendant on silver chain, and links to Etsy seller.
Image shows a silver metal necklace pendant hanging from thick silver chain on white background. The pendant is octagonal in shape with silver edge. Background is a glossy woven black pattern with raised silver medical cross and caduceus serpent symbol.

A contemporary, masculine take on the traditional medical alert necklace, this piece is a great option. It includes some options for customization, and the printed information on the back of the pendant is clear and easy to read. This is a sharp option for daily wear.

Image shows device watch with customizable band tag that displays pertinent medical and contact information, and links to Roadid website.
Image shows a black phone watch with indistinct image on screen, set on white background. A black tag on watch band just under the screen is stamped with customizable information in block white font and reads, at an angle, “Jamie D. Johnson, Los Angeles, California, U-S-A. Tony 859-426-3459, DAD, Sue 859-426-3456, MOM, Eric 859-426-3457, BRO. Never give up.”

If you wear an Apple or similar device watch daily, why not add a tag to the band? This is a subtle way to have all of your pertinent information on you at all times. The tag is fully customizable with all of the information a first responder would need. It’s available in a choice of colors, too, to match the watch band as closely as possible.

Image shows two customizable leather band medical alert bracelets and links to Etsy seller.
Image shows two leather band bracelets with metal clasps sitting stacked on a collection of gray rocks. The bottom band is brown and is stamped with medical caduceus symbol, and reads in block lettering, “Type 1” with remaining letters not visible in the shot. A black leather band sits on top with same symbol, and stamped with “Insulin D–” with remaining letters not visible in the photo.

These simple leather bands are perfect for providing medical information in a unique, stylish way. They are available in a variety of colors. Wear just one, or stack them for a look that is versatile and comfortable.

Image depicts black metal cuff medical alert bracelet and links to Etsy seller.
Image shows sleek black metal cuff-style bracelet set on white background. Bracelet curves around and is open in back, and has medical cross and serpent symbol in white on front.

This sleek bangle is another great option for inconspicuous medical jewelry. The streamline design is subtle, but provides plenty of space for all the important information. I like that the writing is actually not visible to most people, since it maintains privacy. And, of course, it’s available in a variety of finishes.

Image shows black metal watch band medical alert bracelet, and links to Etsy seller.
Image shows black metal watchband-style bracelet resting on a small brown rock on wooden surface. A flat piece on front of bracelet has white medical symbol and words in white font reading, “Connor, Diabetes Type 1, Penicillin Allergy.”

For a bit of a sporty, outdoorsy look, this option is great! It can be fully customized with your name, diagnosis/medical condition, allergies, or whatever is most pertinent. It comes with different finish options and can be worn in water if needed.

Image depicts customizable tungsten carbide medical alert ring, with link to Ratungsten website.
Image shows close-up of black men’s ring with white medical symbol on front, set against white background. Ring is a single band of black with silver stripes along top and bottom. Inside the ring, we read in silver lettering, “Tungsten Carbide.”

If you prefer the look of a ring, here is a great option. This ring is customizable and can be engraved with your diagnosis, allergy alert, or medical condition. The style is subtle and sleek, but allows you to have all the information a first responder would need at (practically!) your fingertips.

Alternative Medical Jewelry for Women

I wonder if you ever thought these words would go together: beautiful medical jewelry. Can you believe it? Sadly, when a medical condition requires some sort of identification, the options are typically very clinical and sterile. Here are some alternative medical alert pieces that are beautiful and functional. Who knows, you may find that you want to collect a variety of pieces to accessorize your outfits!

Image shows two pictures of the same gold chain horizontal bar necklace. In top image, we see the neck and shoulders of a Caucasian woman in white v-neck shirt with gold bar pendant and gold chain necklace. In second image, we see a close-up of bar pendant, with is stamped on either side with medical cross and caduceus serpent symbols. Between these symbols, we read stamped lettering, “Chloe Anderson, Type 1 Diabetes.” The bar pendant is attached on either side with gold rings and simple gold chains.

This dainty, on-trend necklace is subtle, but conveys all the necessary information to a first responder. Unless you are close-up, it looks just like a regular bar necklace. The seller also offers it in a variety of necklace lengths and finishes. This is so lovely, it would even make a meaningful gift!

Image depicts six customizable medical alert pendants in varying sizes and finishes, and links to Etsy seller.
Image depicts a series of vertical bar necklaces of varying thicknesses and differing finishes against solid beige background. On the left we see a thick copper colored pendant with four sizes, with chain through holes at top of pendant. On one side of pendant, we read “I-C-E: 801-555-1234.” On another side, we read “Epilepsy,” with medical serpent caduceus symbol. Next to this we see a thinner pendant in same finish. One side is stamped and illegible, second side reads, “Adrenal Insufficiency,” with medical logo. Next pendant is thick and appears in gold finish, with one side reading “Factor 5 Leiden,” and second side showing only medical symbol. Fourth pendant is slimmer in gold finish, with one side reading, “Blood thinners,” and front side showing medical symbol. Next pendant is thicker with silver finish, reading “Diabetic” with symbol on front side only. Final pendant is thinner in silver finish, reading “Bone Marrow Transplant” and symbol on front side and illegible on side.

How beautiful and simple are these necklaces? They would look lovely just peeking out from under a shirt. With multiple sides, these pendants also allow you to list up to four medical conditions, which eliminates the need for several medical alert pieces. Of course, if you love them you could still go ahead and collect a few! I love that they are available in a variety of sizes and finishes.

Image depicts customizable stamped medical alert bangle bracelet, and links to Etsy seller.
Image shows thin silver metal cuff bracelet on dark gray background, stamped “Pace Maker” with a small heart symbol between the two words. The bracelet curves around and is open in the back.

If you prefer the look of a bracelet, these cuff bracelets are beautiful. Wear one for a single diagnosis, or stack several (even in different sizes and finishes) to reflect more than one diagnosis. While some medical jewelry looks polished and mechanized, I actually love the handmade feel of these stamped bracelets.

Image depicts thin customizable rose gold bangle medical alert bracelet, and links to Sticky J website.
Image depicts a rose gold thin bangle bracelet on white background. An oblong flat front in rose gold has a stamped white medical cross symbol. The bracelet sits at an angle toward the left in the photograph.

Simple and understated, this rose gold bracelet is elegant. As an added bonus, the firm bangle design makes this bracelet easy to fasten (a plus if you suffer from joint pain or limited mobility).

Image depicts customizable leather and metal wrap medical alert bracelet, and links to Lizzy James website.
Image depicts the forearm and upper hand of a woman with medium-toned skin. She wears a loose white blouse and is placing her hand into her jeans pocket, with blurred background. On her wrist, she wears a wrap bracelet of braided brown leather strands with three thin solid silver sections. One section is stamped in black lettering and reads, “* Diabetes.”

If dainty metal jewelry isn’t really your thing, here is another stunning option. This leather wrap bracelet is customizable and has just a little bit of a boho flair. The shop also has a variety of options for charm bracelets and different styles of wrap bracelets.

Image depicts blush pink customizable device watch tag with medical alert and emergency contact information, and links to Etsy website.
Image shows a blush pink phone watch with indistinct image on screen, set on white background. A black tag on watch band just under the screen is stamped with customizable information in block white font and reads, at an angle, “Lovis A. Paterson, Miami, Florida, U-S-A. In case of emergency, Joann 123-456-7890, Madison 000-000-0000. Don’t give up.”

Jewelry’s not really your thing? No problem! With this watch band tag, you can add an alert subtly to your current device watch. The tag can be personalized to include all the important information a first responder would need.

Image depicts customizable metal medical alert ring, with link to Etsy seller.
Image depicts small metal ring in swirling pattern that would wrap around the finger, set on solid beige background. At one end, we see the medical serpent caduceus symbol stamped. Barely visible on the top inside of the ring, we see stamped “1 Dependent,” with remaining lettering not visible. Beneath the ring, we see large block lettering title, “Medical Alert Inside Ring.”

If rings are more your style, this quirky twist ring could be an option. This hand-stamped ring could be personalized to include up to 3-4 diagnoses, listed either on the outside or the inside of the ring. One word of caution with any piece of jewelry with information hidden inside, make sure there is some indication on the outside of the jewelry that it is a medical alert. A finger may not be the first place a first responder looks for information, especially if the ring looks like a regular piece of jewelry! Still, this is a fun, unique way to have the necessary information on you at all times.