Power of Pain: 9 Tips for Cooking with Chronic Pain

By: Barby Ingle, Columnist

For those of us living with pain, we wish for a life worth living -- one that permits us to enjoy our family and friends.

Preparing and sharing a meal is something I enjoy doing, but pain can make even the simplest cooking tasks more difficult, especially those that affect our hands, fingers, wrists, elbows, and shoulders.

Here are nine tips I’ve learned to make cooking easier:


1. Use pots and pans with two handles

2. Buy a food processor, especially if you have difficulty with manual cooking tasks like chopping, cutting, and slicing.

  • Choose a food processor that is manageable for you and your physical limitations
  • Before you buy one, be sure you are able to change the blades easily and remove the plastic bowl and plastic lid from the processor
  • Consider mini food processors for your needs

3.  Use specialty cooking tools such as "Rocker" knives.

  • The two-handled design adds strength and control to cutting and chopping, while the rocker blade design has the motion built right in.

4.  Use a stool to sit on while you prepare and cook food.

  • Cooking can be a long process, depending on how complicated the meal is you are preparing
  • When counter work starts to increase your pain or when standing over the stove is wearing you out, be prepared to pull up a stool

5.  Crock pot meals

  • Crock pots are helpful for people with pain to be able to cook nutritious meals, but in less time and more simply.

6.  Electric can opener to use on canned food or soups

  • Soup is simple to prepare and nutritious
  • Make sure you have canned soups available for when you are having bad pain days or the ingredients to make soup when you don’t feel up to cooking. Soup will warm you and soothe you.
  • Use a ladle to pour soup into the bowl

7.  Double the size of your meals

  • Create planned leftovers which you can freeze and have available for another day
  • You will be glad you have nutritious meals in your freezer on days you don't feel well enough to cook

8.   Food Storage

  •  Get food storage containers which are easy for you to open and easy for you to stack
  •  Prepare and store foods which you commonly use and have them in ready-to-eat condition.

9.   Organize your kitchen

  •  Get a stove with controls on the front rather than the back
  •  Install cabinet handles which are easy to grasp
  •  Install vertical dividers to store pans and trays so that they are not stacked
  •  Raise the front bottom edge of the refrigerator so it closes automatically
  •  Store frequently used items in cupboards between knee and shoulder height
  •  Store kitchen items near the area they are used
  •  Store spices in a drawer or on the counter rather than in a high cupboard

There are many choices and designs for cooking tools and kitchen aids that can make cooking easier, such as ergonomic, lightweight cooking tools, which have easy grips and non-slip handles.

Spatulas, spoons, ladles, whisks and other cooking tools which feel comfortable in your hand can greatly improve manual dexterity, reduce pain, and compensate for swollen and deformed joints.

What tips have you learned to make cooking easier?

Barby Ingle suffers from Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) and endometriosis. Barby is a chronic pain educator, patient advocate, and president of the Power of Pain Foundation. She is also a motivational speaker and best-selling author on pain topics.

More information about Barby can be found at her website.

The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.