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Massage therapy may help relieve back pain. An at-home massager may be an affordable and convenient way to manage the pain in the short term.

Back pain is widespread, affecting eight out of ten people at some point in their lives. In 2016, roughly 13% of adults aged 20–69 in the United States experienced chronic low back pain.

This article lists 7 back massagers that people can use to help alleviate back pain. We also look into the effectiveness of at-home back massagers, provide tips on choosing a suitable massager, and outline some alternatives.

Back massagers are tools for massaging the back. There are many types and styles, including:

  • handheld devices
  • wearable devices
  • massage cushions

A back massager may help to alleviate mild-to-moderate back pain and reduce stress levels.

A person may wish to consult their doctor or a professional massage therapist before using a back massager to help manage their pain.

Learn more about back pain here.

Back massagers use different mechanisms to relax muscles and ease tension, including:

Using an at-home massager may be helpful for people with mild-to-moderate back pain.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NICCH) cites evidence that massage can help people with chronic low back pain (CLBP). However, massage appears to provide only a short-term benefit.

A 2018 study investigated the combined effects of massage therapy and lumbopelvic stability training on low back pain. The researchers found that the combination was more likely to provide clinical benefits compared to massage therapy alone.

Overall, there is very little research into the effects of back massagers. And as experts note, massage therapy from a trained professional is likely to be more effective and to pose fewer risks.

Anyone with ongoing back pain should work with a healthcare professional to arrive at the best course of treatment. The causes of back pain can vary, and massage therapy may not be suitable for everyone.

Learn more about types of massage here.

Manufacturers of back massagers claim that these devices work by boosting circulation to the back muscles. This helps to:

Massage can also help to promote full-body relaxation.

Below are some factors a person may want to consider before choosing a back massager:

  • Pain levels: Massage may be a suitable therapy for individuals with mild to moderate back pain. Anyone experiencing severe or long-term back pain should consult a healthcare professional.
  • Massage type: Some back massagers offer specific types of massage, such as:
    • shiatsu
    • deep tissue
    • percussive
    • vibration-based
  • Massager style: Back massagers are available in various styles, including:
    • handheld
    • wearable
    • cushions
  • Heat: Many back massagers have optional heating capabilities to help further alleviate muscle pain.

The following section explores seven of the best back massagers for back pain.

How we choose products

Medical News Today chooses products that meet the following criteria:

  • Price: They are available for a range of budgets.
  • Features: They have a variety of features to suit different needs.
  • Suitability: They come in a range of styles and sizes.

Below are some back massagers available online.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

For a versatile massager: Zyllion Rechargeable Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager

  • List price: $149.95
  • Best for: muscle tension or pain in the lower back
  • Type: kneading with rotating balls
  • Deep tissue or surface level: deep tissue
  • Heat: yes
  • Pros: has a heat function and massage rollers that change direction for a shiatsu-style massage
  • Cons: may take a while to heat up

This massage pillow is slim and portable, making it suitable for travel as well as home use.

Rotating balls provide a shiatsu-style kneading massage. The balls change direction every minute to help reduce muscle tension.

The product also has a heating feature and a 20-minute automatic shut-off function for safety.

People can use this massager on their back, as well as other areas of the body, making it particularly versatile.

The company offers the following:

  • free shipping
  • a 90-day money-back guarantee
  • a 1-year warranty

For a lifetime warranty: Mighty Bliss Deep Tissue Back and Body Massager

  • List price: around $75
  • Best for: muscle knots
  • Type: handheld device, with a 3,700 PPM percussion motor
  • Deep tissue or surface level: deep tissue
  • Heat: no
  • Pros: rechargeable and has 6 massage attachments
  • Cons: no heat function

This handheld massager features the following:

  • a lightweight design
  • 6 massage heads
  • a percussion motor that powers 3,700 revolutions per minute

The massager is rechargeable. The company states that the battery lasts for over 2 hours on a single charge.

The company also offers a lifetime warranty.

For a wearable waist massager: Comfier Heating Waist Belt Pad for Back Pain Relief with Massage Modes – 6006NB

  • List price: $62.98
  • Best for: upper or lower body pain and menstrual cramps
  • Type: wearable, with three vibrating massage modes
  • Deep tissue or surface level: surface level
  • Heat: yes, 2 levels
  • Pros: adjustable levels of massage, vibration, and heat
  • Cons: surface level massage may be less effective than a deep tissue massage

This massager fits around a person’s waist, and features an adjustable wrap that can extend to 62 inches (in).

Other features include:

  • 4 massage motors
  • 3 massage modes
  • 2 massage intensity levels
  • 2 heat levels

The company states that this massager can help relieve the following types of pain:

The company offers free shipping and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

For an extendable power cord: TheraFlow Handheld Deep Tissue Percussion Massager

  • List price: around $50
  • Best for: a back massager for home use
  • Type: 2,200–3,200 PPM with attachments
  • Deep tissue or surface level: deep tissue
  • Heat: no
  • Pros: variable power speed with 3 attachments
  • Cons: less portable than other options

This electronic handheld massager comes with three attachments for the following types of massage:

  • shiatsu-style
  • acupoint
  • scalp massage

The massager delivers between 2,200–3,200 PPM and people can choose from three intensity levels.

An extendable power cord makes it easier for people to access parts of the body that may otherwise be difficult to reach.

The product comes with a 1-year warranty.

For a double-headed design: Viktor Jurgen Handheld Back Massager

  • List price: around $36
  • Best for: people with head, neck, back, shoulder, leg, or feet pain
  • Type: percussion
  • Deep tissue or surface level: deep tissue
  • Heat: no
  • Pros: customizable massage options, with multiple attachments
  • Cons: some reviewers report the product is heavy

This electric massager has two heads to simulate two-handed massage therapy. It also has a nonslip rubber grip and an extended power cord.

Other features include:

  • a motor that can run up to 3,350 PPM
  • customizable speed settings
  • 3 sets of massage heads

For a wearable back, neck, and shoulder massager: MagicMakers Back Neck Shoulder Massager with Heat

  • List price: around $50
  • Best for: neck, shoulder, back, and waist pain
  • Type: wearable for a shiatsu-style massage
  • Deep tissue or surface level: deep tissue
  • Heat: yes
  • Pros: automatic shut-off function and multi-directional massages
  • Cons: some reviewers report it is noisy

This wearable massager is available in two colors, and features the following:

  • 8 massage nodes; 4 big and 4 small
  • kneading massage rollers that auto-reverse every minute
  • 3 speed levels
  • 3 intensity levels
  • a heating function
  • automatic shut-off after 15 minutes
  • a car adapter

The company offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

For a cushion style: Homedics Thera-P Massage Comfort Cushion with heat

  • List price: $39.99
  • Best for: tense or tight muscles
  • Type: vibrating shiatsu-style massage
  • Deep tissue or surface level: both
  • Heat: yes
  • Pros: fits most chairs and has multiple programs for a customizable experience
  • Cons: some reviewers report it is not suitable for shorter people

This massager cushion is portable and comes with adapters for the car and home.

Other features include:

  • 5 motors
  • 3 massage zones; upper, middle, and lower back
  • 2 intensity levels
  • an optional heat setting

The company offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

The following table compares the back massagers in this article.

List priceTypeDeep tissue or surface levelHeatProsCons
Zyllion$149.95kneading with rotating ballsdeep tissueyesheat functionmay take a while to heat up
Mighty Blissaround $75handheld devicedeep tissuenorechargeable no heat function
Comfier$62.98wearablesurface levelyesadjustable levels of massage, vibration, and heatmay be less effective than deep tissue massage
TheraFlowaround $50percussiondeep tissuenovariable power speedsless portable than other options
Viktor Jurgenaround $36percussiondeep tissuenocustomizable massage optionsmay be heavy
MagicMakersaround $50wearabledeep tissueyesautomatic shut-offmay be noisy
Homedics$39.99shiatsu-stylebothyesfits most chairsmay not be suitable for shorter people

The NCCIH notes that receiving a massage from a trained massage therapist is generally safe. However, the safety of self-massage using massage devices is less clear.

The following can help a person maximize the benefits and reduce the risks of back massagers:

  • talking with a healthcare professional about plans to use a back massager
  • using massage devices for short-term pain relief, and not for acute problems or underlying conditions
  • applying the massager to muscles, and avoiding joints and bones
  • reducing the massage speed and intensity when applying the device to sensitive areas
  • stopping use of the massager if the pain seems to get worse

Other options for managing back pain include:

  • In-person massage therapy: A visit to a professional massage therapist will likely provide the best results. However, this option is typically more expensive and less convenient than at-home massage using a massage device.
  • Massage chairs: A massage chair can provide good results. However, a chair can be an expensive option, and some require a lot of space.
  • Massage chair pads: A massage chair pad is a good alternative to a massage chair. These pads are portable and require less storage space. They are also more affordable.

Below are some answers to common questions about these products.

Can you use a massager on the lower back?

A 2016 case study concludes that massage can be helpful for chronic lower back pain.

However, a person should avoid applying percussive, kneading, or rolling massagers directly to the spine or other bone tissue. These devices are designed for use on muscles, not bones.

Can a massage gun make back pain worse?

Incorrect use of a massage gun can worsen back pain. Factors that could increase pain include:

  • applying the massage gun directly to the spine
  • using the massage gun at too high an intensity
  • using the massage gun for too long

A person should start out with brief sessions that are both low speed and low intensity. If this feels comfortable, a person can gradually increase the speed or intensity.

What is the best massage to get for back pain?

The best massage for back pain depends on several factors, including:

  • the type of pain the person is experiencing
  • how long the person has had the pain
  • the type of massage therapy the person’s healthcare professional has suggested
  • whether the person prefers a massage cushion, a handheld massager, or a wearable device

Back pain is a widespread problem and massage therapy may help provide relief. At-home back massagers may provide some of the benefits of a professional massage at greater convenience and at a reduced cost.

There are several styles of back massager, including handheld devices, wearable devices, and cushions. Massagers may also differ in the types of massage they provide, with options including kneading, shiatsu, percussion, and vibration. Some devices come with removable massage heads, adjustable speed and intensity settings, and heat function.

Research suggests that back massagers may provide short-term relief from mild-to-moderate back pain, and may help temporarily reduce stress levels. However, anyone with severe or chronic back pain should visit their doctor for a diagnosis and appropriate treatment.