WorkSiteRight discusses back pain products with HuffPost
If you’re an adult who finds yourself simply, well, existing, chances are you’ve encountered some back pain. Aging, exercise, an acute injury and working from home during the coronavirus pandemic can take a toll on your muscles, nerves and spine. Sometimes even just bending over can trigger a debilitating episode that leaves you bed-ridden. (Just me on that one? Shout out to the EMS workers and ER nurses who got me back on my feet recently.)
It’s important to see a physician if your back discomfort has lasted a long time or if it’s near a 10 on your personal pain scale. (This is especially true if it’s associated with other issues like a fever, leg weakness or numbness or losing sensation in your groin area, in which case you might want to consider seeking emergency care.) An expert like an orthopedic doctor can check to see if something more serious is going on. They can also offer you tailored advice to help treat the issue.
“There are many ways to relieve back pain, including but not limited to maintaining good posture, engaging in physical therapy, strengthening the core, applying ice and heat and staying active,” Gbolahan Okubadejo, a spinal and orthopedic surgeon based in the New York City area, told me. “Massages, nerve stimulation, talk therapy, back pain relief products and spine surgery procedures can also reduce back pain and keep the spine aligned.”
The pain-relieving products are particularly useful to keep in your arsenal once you’ve seen a doctor. Enter this guide. Below are a few items experts suggest trying when you’re struggling with back pain.
An Adjustable Desk Chair
A year-plus of working from home has wreaked havoc on our bodies. An adjustable, supportive desk chair is key, according to Rahul Shah, a board-certified orthopedic spine and neck surgeon in New Jersey. It’ll help you maintain proper posture throughout the day, which will take pressure off your back (particularly your lower back).
“For someone who has back pain, sitting in a comfortable chair allows one to hold the head comfortably over the pelvis without having the muscles having to do much extra work to bring the head in line over the pelvis,” he said. “As such, chairs that have built in adjustable supports for the back and neck would be a good start, as they will work towards alleviating extra muscle work.”
This Gabrylly Ergonomic Mesh Office Chair from Amazon for $290 fits the description of what Shah recommends. It has more than 2,000 five-star reviews, with one user saying “it has helped my posture and no longer wake up in morning with lower back pain.” The chair comes with an adjustable head rest, arm rests and back support.
Easy Posture Lumbar Back Support Mesh
If you don’t want to buy a whole new chair, try hacking the one you currently have. Okubadejo recommends getting a simple back support fixture.
“This product easily straps to an office chair, and helps correct posture, and provides lower back support,” he said. “It works by giving you a natural ‘S’ curve, which offers comfort to the lumbar spine and promotes better posture. This product prevents you from slouching, thus providing back pain relief.”
Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Ergo Neck Pillow
If you haven’t yet, it’s time to upgrade your pillow. This Tempur-Pedic option comes in multiple sizes (including a travel size!) and is expert-approved because it “encourages a proper neck and head position while you sleep,” Okubadejo said.
“By doing this, you realign your spine, which relieves back and neck pain,” he continued. “The pillow works by following the natural curve of your body and stretching muscles that may be tight. Improved posture while sleeping is important because the ligaments and muscles of your back heal themselves while you sleep.”
A Standing Desk
Sitting is not the new smoking, as some health experts like to claim, but it can cause stress on your back if you do it for an extended period of time. It might be beneficial to get a desk setup that accounts for this issue.
“A sit/standing desk is the best option to offset the biomechanical stressors inflicted when sitting for extended periods of time,” said Chad Henriksen, an ergonomics expert and director of WorkSiteRight at Northwestern Health Sciences University. “Increased low-level activity provides many health benefits compared to a prolonged, fixed-sitting posture. Alternating between a sitting and standing position balances the harmful effects of staying in one position throughout an entire workday.”
This Flexispot Electric Adjustable Height Standing Desk from Amazon for $235 fits what Henriksen describes. If you don’t want to ditch your current workspace, this Flexispot Standing Desk Converter for $140 on Amazon can transform your setup to a standing desk. It has more than 5,200 five-star reviews; one user with sciatica issues due to a herniated disc said: “I go through episodes where it bothers me more than usual. During the last one, I decided to buy this Flexispot 35″ desk converter. I love it.”
Heat And Ice Packs
“The use of either cold or hot packs can work to soothe the muscles locally by either reducing some of the inflammation or by increasing the warmth and encouraging blood flow,” Shah said.
I can attest to this. This Pure Enrichment PureRelief Heating Pad from Walmart for $53 personally saved me when I threw out my back a few weeks ago. It automatically shuts off after a few hours, which gave me peace of mind since I used it to help ease my pain at night. This Ohuhu Reusable Gel Ice Pack With Wrap For Hot & Cold Therapy from Amazon for $15 is also a great (and highly reviewed!) option, providing the hot and cold relief that Shah recommends.
Chirp Wheel+ For Back Pain Relief
If you’re curious what back pain pros use when they are struggling, look no further than the Chirp Wheel+. The wheel comes in multiple sizes depending on your needs.
“I highly recommend this product because the Chirp Wheel is designed to fit perfectly between your shoulder blades, targeting the muscles that go up and down your spine,” Okubadejo said. “As your back is strained from the countless activities you do, those muscles lock up, and cause even more pain. The Chirp Wheel massages those muscles, relaxing your back and relieving all of the pain.”
One caveat: If your back pain stems from trauma to the area, like from an accident, consult a doctor first before using it, Okubadejo said. (Really, you should do that no matter what product you use.) His other tip? Use it for 5 to 10 minutes a day and “be patient. Your body may need some time to decompress the spine and relax all those tight muscles.”