The Products A Chiropractor Recommends For A Painful Neck Or Back

Find relief (and prevent future flare-ups) with these topical pain relievers, ergonomic work setups, body pillows and more.
An electric massage gun, a memory foam body pillow and freezable gel pads.

At one time or another, most of us have woken up with a stiff neck or pinched feeling in the back. Sometimes the pain feels so severe it’s difficult to go about your regular day.

Robert A. Hayden, a Griffin, Georgia-based chiropractor and representative for the American Chiropractic Association, said that the human neck is “relatively small” for its task of holding up the human head, which weighs about 13 to 15 pounds. As a result, the delicate structures in the neck can easily generate a lot of pain and discomfort when strained.

“Meanwhile, back pain is virtually ubiquitous; 80% of us will have it at some point in our lifetimes,” he said.

According to Hayden, things like stress, a misaligned sleep position and unsupported work posture are the factors most responsible for leaving us in pain.

He also said that recurrent and chronic pain can be a sign that our body is trying to tell us something — an indication that there’s something more serious going on than the pain itself.

“If something doesn’t feel right and the things you can do at home are not working, then it’s time to get an opinion from a musculoskeletal specialist,” Hayden said.

Ahead, read more about what Haden suggests to do once those familiar pangs strike, as well as how to prevent them from happening in the first place. Find ergonomic work space additions, deep tissue massage cushions, soothing pain-relief patches and more.

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A memory foam body pillow
According to chiropractor Robert A. Hayden, poor sleep posture is one culprit that frequently causes neck and back pain.

"I coach our patients to sleep using a side sleeping posture, if possible, with a body pillow placed so you can hug it with both the upper arm and the upper knee supported by the pillow," Hayden said. Your head should also be level with the mattress and, he said, this will keep your body better aligned.

Hayden cautions against a soft pillow that's easy to burrow into, thus creating stress points in the neck. Instead, he suggests something that's supportive and just the right height — which is why we chose this memory foam body pillow that's U-shaped so it can keep you aligned no matter which side you sleep on. You can customize the level of firmness by adding more or less shredded memory foam fill, and the breathable cotton cover is removable and machine-washable.
An adjustable electric standing desk
Hayden explained that, second to sleep, work is the one thing that occupies most of our time, with most people working stagnantly at a computer. Therefore, he suggests examining your work station carefully.

"Look at the height of your monitor. Are you looking down at your work for several hours a day? Are you seated for long periods of time without moving around?" he asked.

Hayden previously called adjustable variable height desks "one of the best innovations in workplace ergonomics." These adaptive setups allow you to sit and stand while you work, thereby promoting movement.

We chose this motorized standing desk, which promises enhanced stability and can be adjusted to four programmable height settings with the touch of a button, based on its high user ratings. It's available in two sizes and five finishes.
A tilting ergonomic stool
Hayden said you should also think about the chair you use for work if you're frequently experiencing neck or back pain. He said it should be supportive and stop you from slouching.

One option that Hayden previously brought to our attention is the ergonomic stool. These typically feature a weighted base and a seat that allows a greater range of motion because the stools can wobble 360 degrees when you sit on them.

According to Hayden, replacing the traditional chair at your desk with an ergonomic stool makes a lot of sense because the stool force you to engage your core and postural muscles in your back, thus keeping your posture more erect.

We found this particular wobble stool, which comes in four different colors and has an adjustable height range of 10 inches, an ergonomic sloped seat and weighted dynamic base that allows for a safe range of motion.
A percussive massage gun
"Sometimes a good massage on a sore muscle does the trick," Hayden said, adding that there are many electric massagers on the market with portability, making them convenient options for home use.

We selected one of the highest-rated massage guns on Amazon, the Toloco massager, which features an impressive array of 15 attachments, including an air-cushioned head for softer relief and bulge head to target abdominal muscle soreness. It's also equipped with seven speed levels and six hours of battery life per charge.
A deep tissue kneading pillow
Another portable electric massage option is this contoured kneading pillow that mimics shiatsu massage. We picked it because it features three-dimensional nodules that work to relax tight and overused muscles along the back, shoulders and neck. It also offers a soothing heating function and elastic velcro straps for securing it to an office chair or car seat.
Two freezable gel pads
"Immediate relief is frequently achieved with the use of something cold, like a frozen gel packet," Hayden said. He recommends icing a particular area for no more than 20 minutes because it can burn the skin.

We liked these freezable pads that use a proprietary gel formula along with a soft, flexible insulating layer. They're able to stay colder for longer and have adjustable straps to keep them in place.
Menthol and lidocaine patches
Many topical applications for pain relief contain ingredients like menthol or camphor, Hayden said, which can be very soothing for aches and pains.

We chose this topical product from Icy Hot that comes in convenient stay-put patches that offer fast-acting pain relief for up to eight hours, using a combination of both lidocaine and menthol. One pack contains five patches suitable for the back or other larger areas of the body.

Hayden said to make sure and patch test these types of topical pain relief formulas because there could be a chance of an allergy.
A topical anti-inflammatory gel
Hayden said that non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are another option for topical pain relief. Our pick is Voltaren, a highly rated anti-inflammatory gel that is non-steroidal and hydrating and imparts a cooling sensation when applied. It can help reduce stiffness and aches and improve mobility.

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