Obviously, visit a doctor if you need to. But if you’re looking for the best products to use at home for back pain relief, well, I know a thing or two. Here are some notable back pain products I’ve tried, ranked from worst to best – so you can learn from my mistakes.

 

The Best (and Worst) of Back Pain Relief Products


8 | ThermaCare Heat Wraps

This product actually has really good reviews. So, why did I rank this so low? Well, friend, I gave this three or four tries and each time – like clockwork – the adhesive slipped off within the first few minutes of use. Yeah, that’s kind of a problem.

To be fair, this product would have worked really well if the adhesive hadn’t been an issue. It’s thin, conveniently packaged for on-the-go usage, and the heating element worked like a charm. For the few minutes that it did adhere to my skin, the warmth felt nice and soothing against my sad, tight lower back. But, obviously, I can’t look past the flaws here.

If you want to give it a go anyway in case these work for you (hey, maybe adhesive just doesn’t like my skin for some reason), you can buy ThermaCare Heat Wraps here.

7 | Back Stabilizer

I wore one of these throughout my senior year of high school, desperately hoping it would help my chronic back pain. Simply put, it didn’t work. It didn’t worsen anything (except for the silhouette under my clothes), but it didn’t help either.

Apparently, my negative experience with back stabilizers is scientifically-supported. At least when it comes to lifting, back supports don’t do shit and preventative exercise is your best best. I won’t give you the link to buy an essentially useless product, but I will link you to some exercises for back pain relief. You can get stretching and strengthening here!

6 | Penetrex Pain Relief Therapy

Like the ThermaCare Heat Wraps, this one has pretty phenomenal reviews. That’s why I was so disappointed that it didn’t work for me. I have a few other bones to pick with this product, namely (1) it’s pretty pricey for the amount of product you get and (2) you have to use this several times a day for it to work – I have a life, guys! But, yeah, my main concern is that it didn’t do anything.

It’s possible that this product targets a different type of pain than mine (like, nerve vs. muscle pain for example), but I’m not a doctor so I have literally no idea if that’s the problem or not. I guess, take this with a grain of salt. You might want to try this one out anyway if you’re running out of options because it’s apparently been pretty helpful for a lot of people. Unfortunately, I can’t rec it, though. Sorry!

5 | Ibuprofen

Am I seriously writing a review for ibuprofren, the most mainstream of NSAID’s, the mainstay of everyone and their mother’s medicine cabinets? Yes. Yes, I am. Here’s why: If you have chronic back pain, you have 100% been told by your doctor, friends, and family to pop an ibuprofen. Does it help? Sometimes, I mean, duh.

But if you have chronic back pain, popping an ibuprofen isn’t always that helpful. In my experience, NSAID’s help dull the pain on really bad pain days, at least a little bit. But that regular, everyday pain – not so much. And it’s not ibuprofen’s fault. Sometimes chronic pain is your body’s way of asking you to find and fix the source of the pain, not mask it. At a certain point, dulling the pain isn’t terribly effective, at least not for everyone.

Pain is personal. And pain relief means listening to your body and finding something that works for you. Ibuprofen isn’t a perfect solution, but – as I’m sure you know – it’s still helpful to have on hand. You probably have some ibuprofen stocked in your medicine cabinet, but you can restock here if you’re running low. 

4 | Gaiam Restore Cold Therapy Massage Roller

I love this little guy, I really do. He’s great for rolling out neck and shoulder knots without too much work on your end. Also, this roller is relatively inexpensive, pretty portable, and feels so smooth and cool on your skin. You can even stick it in the freezer for an even colder cold therapy experience if you’re hardcore.

The only downside? It can be hard to use this if most of your pain is in your mid or lower back. Unless, of course, you have someone else help you. But this product is so helpful for neck and shoulder pain that I would argue it’s worth it to invest in this bad boy plus something else for your mid and lower back. Basically, if you’re tired of your knots getting knots and want to do something about it, you can buy Gaiam’s cold therapy massage roller here.

3 | TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller

I borrow this foam roller from my (very tolerant) roommate religiously, and it’s honestly so much better than your run-of-the-mill foam roller. According to the product page, the “multi-dimensional surface” of this roller is designed to mimic what a physical therapist would do for you.

In other words, this bad boy is bumpy and will get right in wherever you need it to – knots, sore muscles, whatever. Versatility is a major strength of this foam roller. I’ve successfully used this to relieve neck and shoulder pain, tightness and knots in my back, and sore muscles in my thighs and calves. It’s strong, durable, and effective – nothing bad to say here. My verdict? This TriggerPoint foam roller is an unproblematic fave – you can (and should) buy it here.

2 | Icy Hot Extra Strength Pain Relieving Cream

I’ve been using Icy Hot for 10+ years and I don’t see my loyalty faltering at this point. Straight-up, this stuff does what it says it will do. When back pain gets in the way of my daily activities or ability to fall asleep, Icy Hot is the quick fix that works for me. That signature hot-cold sensation works its trickery on my body and takes away the bulk of my pain immediately #nonspon (yes, seriously).

If you’ve used Icy Hot or anything like it, then you know its two main failings: (1) The smell is, let’s just say, not great. I mean, I don’t mind it, but the people I interact with on a daily basis? Not a huge fan. (2) You do not want this stuff in your eyes. Seriously, be careful with your newfound power. When Icy Hot is good, it’s so good. When it’s bad? It hurts so GD bad.

Anyway, if you have muscle pain, don’t let Icy Hot’s downsides scare you away. It’s gotten me through a lot of bad pain days (and you’ll learn to deal with the smell). You can get it here.

1 | Aleve Direct Therapy TENS Device

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I avoided TENS therapy for years because the idea of a machine directly messing with my nerves made me nervous. Like, really nervous. (Also, TENS = transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. Okay, no more technical terms from now on. Probably.) After giving in and finally buying a TENS device on an extra-bad pain day, I have happily changed my tune. This thing is magic and it isn’t scary, painful, or difficult to use, either!

So, how does TENS therapy work? Basically, the device (1) blocks the transmission of pain while (2) stimulating pain-reducing endorphins. And all you have to do to use it is power the device on and attach it to your lower back. You can even control the intensity of the treatment at any time with a handy little remote control.

So, what about the sexy stuff: Does it actually work? Honestly, this device is effective af. It treated pain that I didn’t know I had. Plus, it’s easy to use and the whole treatment only takes about 30 minutes. You can even do other stuff while the device is working its magic. The bad news? At roughly $40 this thing is a bit of an investment. But if you’re going to buy only one product for your lower back pain, this would be my choice, hands down. You can buy your own TENS unit here.


Wishing you peace, love, and a happier back,

♥ Meg

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