6 Helpful Products for Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain can be challenging to manage. Find relief with one of these useful expert-recommended products, from therapy balls to a massage gun.
If you suffer from chronic lower back pain, you’re hardly alone: Lower back pain affects an up to 85 percent of working Canadians, according to the Canadian Chiropractic Association. What’s more, it’s the single leading cause of disability worldwide, according to research published in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
Lower back pain is complex since it is typically a combination of different factors (biological, psychological, and social) that create the experience of pain, explains Galina Denzel, a certified personal trainer and co-author of Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well.
“It’s important to differentiate between acute low back pain, the kind that you might get from moving suddenly or falling, which will go away on its own or with some treatment within a few weeks,” she says. That’s not the same as “chronic nonspecific low back pain, which lasts 12 weeks or longer [and] is typically harder to treat, as it involves changes in the nervous system and brain.”
What causes lower back pain?
It’s probably no surprise to learn that age plays a role in the development of low back pain.
“As we age, the intervertebral discs, which normally act as shock absorbers during movement, become worn down and no longer provide the cushioning effect between the vertebrae,” explains Christine Ogbonna, a physical therapist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. “Other probable causes of lower back pain include muscle strains or tears and spinal cord and nerve irritation.”
What to do about lower back pain
The first step in resolving lower back pain is to seek out advice from your primary care provider, who can evaluate and refer you to a physical therapist who can perform a thorough evaluation, explains Ogbonna.
Best products for lower back pain
When it comes to products for lower back pain relief, there’s no shortage. It can be overwhelming to navigate the endless rows of products filled with half-empty promises of a better back. To take the guesswork out of finding the best lower back pain products, our experts highlight their top picks and explain why they’re a must for relief.
Remember, always discuss with your doctor before trying any of these products for back pain.
Tune Up Fitness Therapy Balls Plus
“Self massage tools can significantly improve the quality of fascia, the thin layer of tissue that surrounds every organ,” explains Denzel. “They can facilitate the communication between different parts of the body and relax the lower back muscles.” These rubber balls from Tune Up Fitness are some of her favorite to use. They grip the skin and provide targeted relief for aches and pains, especially in the lower back area.
Mueller 255 Lumbar Support Back Brace
Supporting your lower back throughout the day with a lumbar brace can reduce the pressure and discomfort you feel, notes Ogbonna. There are many different styles, some bulkier than others, but this one from Mueller has excellent reviews. It’s adjustable and includes a lumbar pad to help stave off lower back pain that results from muscle spasms, strains, or sprains. It has a double layer that provides a custom fit and an internal mold that eliminates bunching.
The Original Stretch Out Strap with Stretching Guidebook
“Stretching your lower extremity muscles is helpful in reducing low back pain, as leaning forward or backward can increase this discomfort,” says Ogbonna. She recommends using a stretch out strap to stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, IT band, adductors, gastrocnemius (main calf muscle), and more. This one from OPTP is made of nylon and is great for warm-ups, cool-downs, and everything in between. It also comes with an instructional guide that recommends certain stretches.
SEROLA Sacroiliac Belt
If your sacroiliac joints are loose, you might experience symptoms such as a sharp, stabbing pain in the buttocks or back of the thighs, according to Hélène Bertrand, MD, a family physician and a clinical instructor for the department of family practice at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. To hold them together, she recommends using a Serola belt, which compresses and supports these joints and improves mobility and circulation.
“You do the exercise when you are hurting,” she says. “And you wear the belt whenever you are doing something that would make your pain happen—like walking, lifting weights, or standing for a long time.”
QR Cream Quick Relief Pain Cream
“The active ingredient in this product [QR Cream], mannitol, is able to reach the source of your pain,” explains Dr. Bertrand. “It very quickly shuts down the pain signal that nerves send to the brain. If you suffer from cramps or sciatica, rub the cream everywhere you are hurting along your painful nerve to get relief,” she adds.
Terry Naturally Traumaplant Comfrey Cream
This plant-based cream from Terry Naturally shows serious promise for the treatment of back pain, notes Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, an internist who specializes in fibromyalgia and pain. “This should not be taken by mouth,” he says. “But this unique form has the unhealthy component bred out and is remarkably effective.” He recommends rubbing the cream over the painful area three times a day for optimal results.