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Back pain is a leading cause of disability, and it’s estimated that about 80 percent of people will experience this pain in their lifetime. About a quarter of American adults seek care for acute, or short-term back pain, while 8 percent experience long-term or chronic back pain.

Treating back pain is time consuming and costly. Significant back problems may eventually require surgery to correct the issue. In many cases, however, pain can be treated with a variety of less invasive treatments.

Nonpharmacological treatments — or those that don’t involve medication — are preferred by most healthcare professionals, since back pain generally improves over time regardless of treatment.

Examples of non-invasive, nonpharmacologic treatments for back pain include:

  • acupuncture
  • massage
  • heat
  • spinal manipulation

Spinal manipulation and acupuncture usually require the care of a specialized professional, like a chiropractor. The cost and time involved in these treatments can add up. Home massage units might be an option that can offer relief for acute and chronic back pain in between or instead of chiropractic care.

There are many types of back massagers on the market. Some are targeted to provide relief to certain areas, like the shoulders or lower back.

Below is a ranking of the top-ranked back massagers you can use at home.

How we chose

These products were selected considering:

  • the scope of the treatments they can provide
  • how many areas they can treat
  • cost
  • consumer reviews
  • ease of use and versatility
  • safety

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $40
  • $$ = $40–$60
  • $$$ = over $60

Best heated pillow back massager

Nekteck Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager

  • Price: $$
  • Distinguishing features: This massager drapes over the area you’re trying to treat. Using eight deep Shiatsu kneading massagers, this device can be used on different parts of the body, and you can set the intensity level.
  • Target areas treated: back, neck, shoulders, legs
  • Heat: yes
  • Safety: adjustable intensity levels and auto shut-off for heating element and power
  • Usability and versatility: It can be moved to different parts of the body, with numerous modes and intensity levels. The device comes with a car adapter for portability.
  • Reviews: more than 41,000 reviews, with 71 percent 5 stars
  • Cons: Draping design could be challenging to treat smaller, hard-to-reach areas. Some reviewers have negative comments about product quality.

Best chair back massager

Snailax Shiatsu Massage Cushion with Heat

  • Price: $$$
  • Distinguishing features: This is a seated massage unit. It can provide therapy to multiple areas at once, and even be used while seated for work. Using four moving massagers, you can set three modes to target your entire back, lower back, or upper back. There are controls to adjust intensity and heat, and the seat of the pad features three levels of vibration.
  • Target areas treated: full back
  • Heat: yes
  • Safety: adjustable intensity levels and auto shut-off for power and protection against overheating
  • Usability and versatility: It can be used in a variety of seated positions, whether it’s an office chair, recliner, or sofa. Trouble areas can be targeted, but there’s only a home power adapter cord.
  • Reviews: around 14,000 reviews, with 66 percent 5 stars
  • Cons: This product can only be used in the seated position and doesn’t feature a car adapter or battery to allow for better portability.

Best back massager for sciatica

Zyllion Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager

  • Price: $$
  • Distinguishing features: This pillow has three deep tissue massagers that can be used to target smaller areas like the lower back or between the shoulder blades. Massagers automatically change direction. While this product can only treat one area at a time, it’s praised for reaching into the contours of your body. There’s no option to adjust intensity, but the device comes with a padded cover for a gentle massage. There’s also a model with eight deep tissue massagers.
  • Target areas treated: back, neck, shoulders, abdomen, legs, calf, thigh
  • Heat: yes
  • Safety: auto shut-off for heat and overheating protection
  • Usability and versatility: This device can be moved to different parts of the body. An adjustable strap allows you to secure the device where you need it, and it comes with a car adapter for portability.
  • Reviews: almost 44,000 reviews, with 73 percent 5 stars
  • Cons: This device can only treat one area at a time, and it must be plugged in to use. Intensity level can only be adjusted with a removable sleeve.

Best back massager for muscle knots

LifePro Sonic Handheld Percussion Massage Gun

  • Price: $$$
  • Distinguishing features: Massage guns are a popular product for delivering different types of massage and custom intensities to any part of the body. This vibrating gun comes with eight interchangeable massager heads to switch the type of massage and pinpoint therapy. It also features different intensity settings and a rechargeable battery.
  • Target areas treated: anywhere
  • Heat: no
  • Safety: can remove the device from the area you are treating at any time
  • Usability and versatility: It delivers a highly customizable massage and is portable.
  • Reviews: more than 17,000 reviews, with 79 percent 5 stars
  • Cons: You must be able to hold this device in position wherever you want treatment and keep it there for the duration of use.

Best back massager for pain relief

Mighty Bliss Cordless Massager

  • Price: $$$
  • Distinguishing features: This handheld massager comes with six different massage heads. You can apply however much pressure you want on any part of your body with a percussion massage.
  • Target areas treated: anywhere
  • Heat: no
  • Safety: can be removed at any time, and intensity depends on how firmly you apply it
  • Usability and versatility: The device can be moved to different parts of the body, with a selection of different massager heads. The lithium-ion rechargeable battery makes this device very portable.
  • Reviews: more than 12,000 reviews, with 80 percent 5 stars
  • Cons: You must hold this device in position to use, so it could be difficult for those who can’t hold it in place or to reach out-of-the-way areas.

Best back massager for stress relief

Renpho Rechargeable Hand Held Deep Tissue Massager

  • Price: $
  • Distinguishing features: This massager is similar in function to a massage gun, with the design of a handheld massager.
  • Target areas treated: anywhere
  • Heat: no
  • Safety: auto shut-off to avoid overheating
  • Usability and versatility: This device can be moved to different parts of the body, with numerous massage heads and speeds. The unit is cordless and rechargeable for portability.
  • Reviews: more than 54,000 reviews, with 69 percent 5 stars
  • Cons: Draping design could be challenging to treat smaller, hard-to-reach areas. Some reviewers have negative comments about product quality.

Best manual back massager

Body Back Buddy Classic

  • Price: $
  • Distinguishing features: This device may look simple, but it gets the job done. No batteries or charging required, massage hooks use a curved rod with knobs in various locations to allow you to put any amount of pressure you want on targeted areas of the body.
  • Target areas treated: anywhere
  • Heat: no
  • Safety: completely manual device has no safety guard in place
  • Usability and versatility: This manual device requires no batteries, power cord, or charging. It can be placed anywhere on the body using whatever pressure you desire.
  • Reviews: more than 13,000 reviews, with 75 percent 5 stars
  • Cons: You have to do all the work with this tool. You will only get the benefit of whatever angle or force you use.

Best multi-grip back massager

Therabody Theragun Elite

  • Price: $$$
  • Distinguishing features: The Therabody Theragun Elite percussion massage gun may help loosen tight muscles and knots, helping alleviate soreness and promote relaxation. It connects to the Therabody app, where you can learn the best way to use the device on specific areas of the body.
  • Target areas treated: anywhere
  • Heat: no
  • Safety: has different intensity levels and you can remove it at any time
  • Usability and versatility: The massage gun has five speeds and a multi-grip handle that allows you to reach most body areas. The portable device comes with a carrying case and five attachable heads.
  • Reviews: more than 3,000 reviews, with 84 percent 5 stars
  • Cons: Some users report that it’s difficult to reach some parts of their back without assistance. Other reviewers complain that the battery dies quickly or stops charging.

Best back massager for upper back

HoMedics Shiatsu Elite 3D Shiatsu & Vibration Massage Pillow with Heat

  • Price: $$
  • Distinguishing features: This massage pillow has several settings that target deep tissues, including rolling, shiatsu, and kneading. The optional heat and vibration features may help increase blood flow to alleviate soreness and enhance relaxation.
  • Target areas treated: neck, shoulders, and back
  • Heat: yes
  • Safety: 15-minute auto shut-off
  • Usability and versatility: The portable, lightweight pillow fits on most chairs. The massager is geared toward the neck, shoulders, and back, though you can also use it on your arms, legs, and feet. It comes with a 6-foot (183-cm) power cord.
  • Reviews: more than 3,000 reviews, with 68 percent 5 stars
  • Cons: This massage pillow may be too loud for some people. Several customers complain that the massager stopped working after a few weeks.

Best gentle back massager

Wahl Deep Tissue Percussion Therapeutic Massager

  • Price: $$
  • Distinguishing features: This handheld percussion massager features a long handle so you can reach most areas. It can help reduce pain, tension, and stress. The massager is a good option for people who want a gentle massage that alleviates stiff, sore muscles.
  • Target areas treated: anywhere
  • Heat: no
  • Safety: you can control the intensity and remove it at any time
  • Usability and versatility: The massager reaches most areas. It comes with four attachment heads and a speed dial so you can adjust the intensity. It has a 9-foot (274-cm) power cord.
  • Reviews: more than 14,000 reviews, with 65 percent 5 stars
  • Cons: The device is too bulky, heavy, and noisy for some. Reviewers report that internal pieces of the device break easily, causing it to stop working.

Best heated handheld back massager

HoMedics Percussion Action Plus Handheld Massager

  • Price: $$
  • Distinguishing features: This handheld percussion device has two dual headsets for a firm or soft massage. It has four speeds that control the intensity. The massager has an optional heat option to soothe aching muscles and enhance relaxation.
  • Target areas treated: anywhere
  • Heat: yes
  • Safety: 15-minute auto shut-off
  • Usability and versatility: The double heads allow you to massage both sides of your spine at once. The long handle makes it easy to reach most body areas.
  • Reviews: more than 18,000 reviews, with 68 percent 5 stars
  • Cons: A few reviewers complain that the massager doesn’t get hot enough, while others say it overheats. Other reviews report that it’s too heavy and noisy.

Best heated mat back massager

Snailax Memory Foam Massage Mat with Heat

  • Price: $$$
  • Distinguishing features: This massage mat features 10 vibrating massage nodes and four heating pads that help increase blood flow, alleviate tension, and reduce soreness.
  • Target areas treated: shoulders, back, thighs, and calves
  • Heat: yes
  • Safety: 30-minute auto shut-off
  • Usability and versatility: The mat has three intensity levels and is easy to transport. You can use it on the floor, chair, couch, and bed.
  • Reviews: almost 6,000 reviews, with 64 percent five stars
  • Cons: Some reviewers report that the nodes are too hard and cause discomfort. Others complain that the vibration isn’t powerful enough.

MassagerPrice Target areas treated Heat Battery or corded electric
Nekteck Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager$$back, neck, shoulders, legsyes corded electric
Snailax Shiatsu Massage Cushion with Heat$$$full back yes corded electric
Zyllion Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager$$back, neck, shoulders, abdomen, legs, calf, thighyes corded electric
LifePro Sonic Handheld Percussion Massage Gun$$$anywhere norechargeable battery
Mighty Bliss Cordless Massager$$$anywhere norechargeable battery
Renpho Rechargeable Hand Held Deep Tissue Massager$anywherenorechargeable battery
Body Back Buddy Classic$anywherenoN/A
Therabody Theragun Elite$$$anywherenorechargeable battery
HoMedics Shiatsu Elite 3D Shiatsu & Vibration Massage Pillow with Heat$$neck, shoulders, and backyes corded electric
Wahl Deep Tissue Percussion Therapeutic Massager$$anywherenocorded electric
HoMedics Percussion Action Plus Handheld Massager$$anywhereyescorded electric
Snailax Memory Foam Massage Mat with Heat$$$shoulders, back, thighs, calvesyescorded electric

To choose the best back massager, you can consider several factors that will help to narrow down your search.

Factors to consider include:

  • Cost. Decide what your budget is.
  • Reviews. Find out what online reviewers have to say about the product, especially if you want to use it for a specific purpose, such as arthritis pain or stress relief.
  • Areas it treats. Decide if you want a massager that targets certain areas or works anywhere. If you want a handheld massager for your back, make sure it reaches all areas unless you’ll have assistance.
  • Features and details. Consider aspects such as heat, intensity levels, and types of massage. Decide if you prefer a battery-operated or corded electric device. Consider the weight and size if you plan to bring the massager to work, to the gym, or on trips.
  • Warranty and return policy. Check out the company website to learn about the warranty and return policy. Find out if the offers are valid if you purchase from a third-party website.

While using a back massage might seem like the easiest fix for your back pains, these products should be used with caution, too.

Research suggests massage can help lessen back pain, but there’s little evidence as to which types of massage offer the most benefit.

Here are some do’s and don’ts to follow when using massage for back pain:

  • Do see a healthcare professional to rule out anything that could require surgery or other more significant treatments.
  • Do see a healthcare professional to identify the root cause of your back pain.
  • Do consider a multi-faceted approach to treating your back pain.
  • Don’t ignore pain that becomes more severe over time.
  • Don’t continue to massage an area if it’s causing you more pain.
  • Don’t avoid seeing a doctor or chiropractor if your pain becomes worse over time or affects your ability to complete daily tasks.

Are back massagers good for your back?

Yes, back massagers are beneficial for your back. You can use a back massager before or after workouts. They are also beneficial for reducing stress and can help you unwind and relax.

Do electric massagers help with back pain?

Yes, electric massagers can help alleviate back pain and reduce stiffness. They can help increase circulation and improve flexibility, which may help you move with greater ease.

Be careful not to apply too much pressure or use a high speed on sensitive areas, as this can worsen pain. If an electric massager causes your pain to worsen, stop using it and reach out to a healthcare professional.

How can I massage my own back?

To massage your own back, come into a comfortable standing, seating, or lying position. Gently rub your back, paying attention to any painful or sensitive areas. If your device is heavy, place a pillow underneath your arm for support.

Start on a low setting in one of the least sensitive areas of your lower back. Massage this area for a maximum of 2 minutes before moving to another spot. Gradually, work your way up to the more sensitive areas.