There's not a lot you can do when your back is in pain. Day-to-day tasks are imbued with an ache that just doesn't seem to shake off, even when sitting, standing or sleeping. It's a common complaint among sedentary workers, and if you lead a similar lifestyle, there are readily available expert-approved items that can help offer some relief.
Can we relieve back pain at home?
Lower back pain can come about for various reasons, with the severity ranging from mild to serious. It's only when we've injured or strained our back muscles that we can turn to at-home remedies, so identifying the cause of our discomfort is important.
"Only mild muscle strain, tension or injury can be easily treated at home. However, any chronic pain accompanied by symptoms like numbness or weakness in the legs, or if the pain wakes the patient up at night, should be considered a serious condition and requires a visit to the doctor," said Dr Osama Attia, a consultant orthopedic and spine surgeon, and the founder of Bonex Klinik in Downtown Dubai.
This mild category of back pain is often rooted in faulty posture, and prolonged driving and sitting, where the muscles are in constant tension, adds Ajmal Sheriff, a specialist physiotherapist with the Dubai-based Emirates Health Services (EHS).
When it comes to aching back muscles, prevention is key. Naturally, this means incorporating periods of movement every 45 to 60 minutes when sitting for too long. "If we move around in between, then there'll be no shortening of the muscle. We can stretch regularly, like the cat stretch, to help relieve muscle tightness," said Sheriff.
Stetching must be done properly to avoid further injuries. Dr Attia cautions against bending and twisting incorrectly, so if you're reaching down to touch your toes, make sure you're bending at the hip joint and keeping your back straight.
Which products can help with back pain?
Both experts strongly agree on applying a hot pack or cold press to the lower back. "Hot water bottles or pads can be applied to the area to relax the tense muscles and reduce the pain. It should be done carefully so as not to harm the back with heat. The duration depends on the person's tolerance," explained Dr Attia.
As a physiotherapist, Sheriff applies either compress depending on the type of pain. "We use an ice pack if it's an acute injury that's one to three weeks old. It lowers the body temperature and constricts the blood vessels and reduces swelling, which, in turn, decreases inflammation. If it's chronic or has been more than three weeks, it's better to go for a hot pack," he said.
Percussion devices and support tools also exist to ease pain temporarily. With items like support belts and massage guns, however, long-term use is discouraged. Dr Attia said: "Support belts provide temporary relief for patients with acute back pain or those who need additional stability during certain physical activities. It's not a long-term solution. Belts should only be worn in acute stages of pain."
Instead, dressing your office chair and car seat with a lumbar pillow can allow the spine to sit curved the way it should be. Sheriff says that back cushions pose no harm if used regularly.
If sleeping has become increasingly difficult, you could replace your mattress or invest in neck and knee pillows. You can learn more about each product below, where we've listed recommended items for back pain relief that are highly rated by users on Amazon. Subscribe to Prime for free, same-day delivery.
1. Best Hot Pack: OneAmg Heat Pad
- Six temperature settings up to 65 degrees Celsius
- Belt fabric is soft and skin-friendly
- Machine washable
- Timer for up to six hours
- Easy velcro fastener
- Belt circumference might be small for some
For ease of use, you'll be better off with an electric heating pad that can be applied instantly, no matter where or what time of the day. You're free from pouring hot water into bottles and microwaving gel packs. The OneAmg heat pad comes in a wraparound belt form with a digital controller. Adjust the perfect heat setting with a touch of a button, from 40 to 65 degrees Celsius, and set a timer for up to six hours. If it needs a wash, toss it in the washer after disconnecting the pad from the control panel. Reviewers who suffer from back pain episodes find this pad a safer alternative than hot water bottles, and assure buyers that it delivers good pain-relieving temperatures. They like how comfortable the fabric is, as it is soft enough to be used over any part of the body.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh29 and two years for Dh41.
2. Best Cold Compress: Magic Gel Ice Pack, 2-Pack
A cold pack can feel numbingly soothing on the back, so you’ll want an application that retains the icy temperature for as long as possible. The FDA-registered Magic Gel brace comes with two gel packs, one for storing in the freezer while the other is strapped around your back. The gel’s thick viscosity lets you contort the pad into any shape for your back, even when it’s ice cold. Once worn, your muscles enjoy a cold compress for up to 22 minutes, and the best part is that the pack can go on hot as well. Buyers love the convenience of having a backup pad inside the freezer. Those with chronic flareups leave five stars; it’s even great post-surgery since the belt stays put for a constant compress. If the belt circumference doesn’t fit your waist, reviewers wedge it between their back and a seat.
Warranty: The manufacturer offers a two-year warranty.
3. Best Lumbar Cushion: Samsonite Ergonomic Lumbar Support Pillow
Lumbar pillows are a quick solution to a sore back, but the kind of material and shape matter. Dr Attia said: "A lumbar pillow should provide adequate support and match the natural curve of our lower back. In my opinion, a memory foam or a firm pillow can be an effective choice." The Samsonite ergonomic lumbar cushion is stuffed with high-grade memory foam with firm support. It cradles the spine from both sides, following all the contours and curves of your body, all the while gently guiding it into a less strained posture. The adjustable belt goes around the back of any seat to keep the pillow in place. People working long shifts attest to the support their back gets with this pillow strapped in. They've taken it to the office, movies, restaurants and cars, with pain-free results.
4. Best Massage Gun: Hyperice Hypervolt Plus
- Quiet glide technology
- Five head attachments for targeted use
- Powerful percussions
- Charge lasts for up to three hours
- Some might find it difficult to reach the back on their own
For a more versatile tool, especially if you're a fitness enthusiast, keep a massage gun in your corner. It's a percussion device that loosens stiff, tight muscles with repeated vibrations. These come with various attachments for targeted body parts, but Sheriff advises using a soft wide head that's going to be gentler on the tense muscles. The Hypervolt takes the first place in our list of best massage guns, as recommended by an expert. It arrives with five head attachments, two of which are wide and blunt, and can be used at three pressure levels. Each charge cycle gives you up to three hours of use. Reviewers use it after a long day at work to relieve tension with deep muscle penetration. If you lead an active lifestyle and find your back aching post-workouts, this tool is just the thing for you.
Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh74.65 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh52 and two years for Dh73.
5. Best Back Belt: Mueller Back Brace
A back brace or a lumbar support belt is not one for continued use. We can quickly become dependent on the belt for everyday activities, which is not recommended. Pick it up if you're in an acute phase of pain to help with mobility. The Mueller back brace is fitted with eight flexible steel springs for lumbar support. You can adjust the tension from the elastic straps, which fit waists of up to 127cm. Reviewers wear it to protect their backs when lifting heavy items, doing chores around the house and other physical activities. Even though it's a one-size belt, some do have trouble fastening the straps.
6. Best Sleep Support: 5 Stars United Half Moon Bolster Semi-Roll Pillow
According to Dr Attia, the ideal sleeping position should relieve pressure from your back, which ultimately varies from person to person. However, in most cases, sleeping on your back with supportive pillows under the neck and knees "can help maintain proper spine alignment". Half-moon pillows are often used in elevating the legs, like this bolster by 5 Stars United. It's meant to go under your knees, though reviewers also tuck it under their necks, to take some load off your spine. The top layer is a premium quality memory foam with a light lemon scent, while the base layer is a resilient foam. Several buyers sleep better and wake up with significant back pain improvement.
7. Best Mattress Topper: Zinus Copper Cooling Memory Foam Mattress Topper
If your mattress isn't helping with the pain, toppers can be your next best, cost-effective solution. "Mattress toppers should be memory foam or latex, which can provide additional cushioning and support - they can help in relieving pressure points and improving spine alignment," said Dr Attia. Here's one by Zinus. It's a cooling and moisture-resistant topper with a contoured design that cradles pressure points. Reviewers happily point out that their back aches less than usual in the mornings. Even those who engage in professional sports find relief for the whole body with this topper. You can choose from different sizes and thickness.
Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.