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I tried everything so you don’t have to!
Amazon is invaluable for me as a freelance writer with chronic pain (i.e. I don’t have a ton of money and running errands is impossible on bad pain days).
Over the past few years, when my pain has been at its worst, I’ve tried an embarrassing amount of pain relief products. I tried just about anything and everything I was recommended.
Many of these products were duds, depleting my hope and my bank account.
But the upshot is I now know what does help.
I’ve become much more discerning in what I’m willing to spend my money on. I don’t want you to waste your time (or cash!) on the modern equivalents of snake oil.
So I present to you 5 pain relief products I personally use and endorse.
- Good for: Lower back pain; sciatica; improving your posture
- Goes best with: An ergonomic desk, work, or car setup
- Pros: Washable seat cover; convenient handle for carrying
- Cons: A bit bulky for travel; doesn’t fit in most backpacks or bags
Since April 2018, my butt has used this cushion daily. I keep one in my car and one in my home office chair. I drag it with me to restaurants and movie theaters when I’m having hip or tailbone pain. It has made driving and working at the computer much easier for me.
The cutout takes the pressure off my tailbone and the contours comfortably fit my body. This handy cushion even enables me to sit upright on my saggy, very un-ergonomic couch.
If you struggle to sit up straight without pain, this cushion could be a game-changer.
- Good for: Self-massage; fascia blasting; light trigger point work
- Goes best with: Use after a hot bath or shower
- Pros: About 1/10th as expensive as the similar Fascia Blaster
- Cons: Can be difficult to use if you have shoulder or wrist pain
Fascia blasting was a trend a few years ago, boasting the ability to “blast away” both cellulite and pain.
Since cellulite is simply a way of storing fat, I’m both unconcerned with fighting it and unconvinced that a massage tool can eliminate it. But this nifty tool is indeed helpful for pain.
This knockoff version is much cheaper than the pricey original. I’ve written about myofascial release in this column before.
Use this massage stick to apply direct or indirect pressure to sore muscles or trigger points, which will loosen your fascia and ease your muscle pain.
- Good for: Hunched posture; upper back, neck, and shoulder pain
- Goes best with: Physical therapy or other exercises that strengthen your upper back, chest, and shoulder muscles
- Pros: Its discreet design allows it to be concealed under sweaters or scarves
- Cons: Can increase pain at first or if you wear it for too long or too often
When I was 28, an acquaintance in a physical therapy training program informed me I was on my way to being a “hunchback” if I didn’t fix my posture.
She was right, but it took me a few more years of denial to do something about it.
Using this back posture corrector, I gradually went from a hunched back to a straight spine. In conjunction with PT to strengthen my upper back, I’ve eliminated the stabbing upper back pain I used to experience daily.
Start slow: 10 minutes a day, then gradually increase each week. I liked to wear it while doing chores. It pulls when you hunch your shoulders, and that physical feedback reminds you to stand or sit up straight.
Eventually, your shoulders will learn to do this on their own, and you won’t need to wear this anymore!
- Good for: Side sleeping; pain-free couch sitting
- Goes best with: Additional pillows to totally envelop you in a pain-fighting cocoon!
- Pros: Flexible and versatile; makes many sleeping positions more comfortable
- Cons: Bulky; makes cuddling in bed logistically difficult
Yes, this is marketed as a pregnancy pillow — but you don’t have to be pregnant to reap the benefits!
I’ve never been pregnant, but I can attest that this versatile pillow is great if you find certain sitting or sleeping positions painful or uncomfortable.
I love sleeping on my side, but it’s become too painful for my shoulders and hips. This pillow lets me sleep on my side again! I also love to use it when sitting on the couch, folded in various noodle-like forms to support whatever joint needs it most that day.
- Good for: Leg, hip, and back pain; POTS; circulation; reducing fatigue
- Goes best with: Moving or standing
- Pros: Supports your core and lower body; improves proprioception
- Cons: Very tight; can be uncomfortable when sitting for long periods
Like many with a menstrual cycle, my pain and general wellness revolve around my period.
In the 7–10 days before my period, my joint pain greatly increases, especially in my hips, knees, and ankles. My hips and SI joints sublux more frequently and I find it difficult to maintain my daily exercise routine.
These compression leggings have been a godsend for the part of my cycle when my pain is the worst. It feels like my lower body is being hugged and supported… because it is.
But you don’t have to have painful periods to benefit from these. These are also great for any lower body pain, circulation issues, POTS, and exercising.
Return if you don’t like it
Don’t be afraid to utilize Amazon’s generous return policy. If something doesn’t work or isn’t as advertised, you’re well within your rights to return or exchange it.
Set a reminder in your phone that alerts you a week before the return window closes.
Keep an eye on prices
On Amazon, prices can change hourly, daily — and even from browser to browser. I use Honey to track prices and find better deals.
Aim for high quality
Sort results by highest ratings! Your body deserves high-quality, effective products.
I don’t even look at products with average reviews of less than 4 stars anymore. The risk isn’t worth it.
Ask for help
Do you have friends with chronic pain or the same diagnoses as you? Are you in chronic pain or chronic illness Facebook groups or other online forums?
Ask your friends, both online and off, for their recommendations for cheap, effective products for pain relief.
Ash Fisher is a writer and comedian living with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. When she’s not having a wobbly-baby-deer-day, she’s hiking with her corgi, Vincent. She lives in Oakland. Learn more about her on her website.