Low back pain is easily the most common musculoskeletal cause for a visit to the doctor’s office in the US. I’m sure you know someone who is currently suffering from back pain or may even have it yourself. Back pain is so common with an incidence rate of 1.39 per 1,000 people in the United States that nearly 60% of people will have back pain in their lifetime and that number seems low. Luckily, there are many different ways to help someone you care about if they have low back pain. We’ve compiled a list of the best gifts you can get someone who has low back pain and how it will help them.
Help them Keep Active and Strong with a Recumbent Elliptical
The single most important thing to do with back pain is to stay active. Hands down, the more someone walks, squats, and moves the better their low back pain levels will be. This is especially true for people with chronic back pain. Sometimes though walking can be tough due to pain with standing or because of the weather. That’s why we recommend getting a home recumbent elliptical such as the Teeter Freestep Cross trainer. This research study shows that general exercise is just as effective as massage for low back pain and is easier since you can do it at home.
The Recumbent elliptical is great for low back pain for 3 main reasons:
- Increase Back Strength – It helps with muscle strength without hurting the spine. You can choose from many different resistance levels yet exercise in a comfortable position. This is perfect to improve leg and back strength
- Improves Blood Flow – We need blood flow to the spine to help with healing. Without increased blood flow, all of the nutrients and building blocks for recovery are limited in the spine. Exercising using a recumbent elliptical is perfect.
- Flushes Toxins – Exercise helps flush some of the toxins and swelling from the spine and brings in our own bodies endorphins. These endorphins are the body’s natural pain reliever medication and are produced more with exercise.
Help Decrease Pain with an Inversion Table
For anyone that has back pain and gets relief from mechanical traction then an inversion table is the perfect gift. An inversion table is a table that you hook your feet into and then it flips to nearly upside down. This stretches out and unloads the spine. For anyone that has disc problems, arthritis, or nerve compression then an inversion table is an excellent way to manage pain at home with only 20-30 minutes of use a day. Our favorite inversion table for the money and quality is the Innova Inversion table because of the heating and massage elements added.
Help Loosen Tight Muscles with a Home Muscle Massager
Any time there is pain in the area, it’s natural for the body to tighten down in response to help protect the area. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a personal masseuse on staff to help work out those knots? Well, now you can afford one in the RENPHO personal massager. We like this personal massager for back pain because it’s affordable, is cordless, and has multiple attachments and speed to help get that achy area just the way it needs. This unit has great reviews and great customer service should there ever be an issue. The best part for us? You don’t have to have a partner help hold it in place with the long arm or you can prop it against the couch and lean back on it.
Give a Back Roller to Roll Out the Back
One of the newer types of gadgets to the world of Physical Therapy is a back roller, also known as a yoga wheel. Despite its use in yoga for some time now, the yoga wheel is starting to get noticed by many different healthcare professionals. With a back roller, you lie on top of it and roll back and forth over the top of it. It helps loosen muscles, improve the mobility of the lumbar vertebrae, and help decrease overall pain levels. It’s similar to a foam roller but much more comfortable and you’ll be much more likely to use it. The best Back Roller Wheels actually come as a set such as the Up Circle Seven Set.
Give Some Pain Relief with a TENS Machine
A TENs unit is a class modality for low back pain but has often been deferred to being purchased through insurance. The IReliev TENS Unit is unique in that it also comes with an EMS setting. EMS stands for electrical muscle stimulation and can be used to help improve muscle strength. TENS has been a staple in rehab clinics for decades to help with pain control and now the units are so easy to use at home. The unit is small and lightweight making it easy to carry and has a 14 hour battery life per charge.
Decrease Muscle Tightness and Relax with a Microwaveable Hot Pack
A hot pack is one of the easiest and most comfortable ways to loosen tight muscles. We often get asked, “what’s better for back pain, ice or heat?” We prefer using heat because it brings blood to the area which helps healing, calms down nerves, loosens tight muscles, and helps with joint stiffness. A hot pack is great to use before bed to help you sleep better or first thing in the morning to get going faster. Our favorite microwaveable hot pack for back pain is the Magic Gel Hot Pack. It can be used both as a hot pack or in the freezer as a cold pack.
Give a Foam Roller to Loosen up Tight Hips
Ever tried a foam roller before? It’s a foam cylinder that you roll on top of to loosen muscles and calm down nerves. It’s used frequently in Physical Therapy to help loosen hip and leg muscles which in turn helps loosen the pull on the spine. Foam rollers have been proven to lower pain thresholds, improve local blood flow, and help improve flexibility. There are a ton of videos on youtube on how to foam roll the hips and there is no need to have any experience prior to using one.
Take Down Pain levels with Lidocaine Pain Patches
Lidocaine is an anesthetic that helps block pain and calm down nerves. It’s often the numbing agent used before injections so you can’t feel it. Now it is available as a pain patch. The icy hot lidocaine pain patches can be placed anywhere on the body and provide pain relief through the release of Lidocaine. We tell patients to put these on, then try and exercise or use them to go to work. They are best used to complete tasks in less pain, not necessarily to be sedentary with. These also have few side effects and are safe to use.
Improve Core Strength with a Resistance Band Set
The real secret to long term success in beating low back pain is improving back and core strength. In today’s online market there are great inexpensive resistance band sets that you can attach to door frames and use at the house with ease. The best-rated set that we like is the Black mountain resistance set. It comes with a door anchor, handles, many different resistance levels. They come with a bag that you can take with you on trips or on vacation. For help on the best core exercises with a resistance band, you can watch this video here.
Voltaren Gel - Get Pain Relief That’s Prescription Strength
A great way to help with pain is with a topical pain cream and now you can get one that until recently was only available by prescription. Voltaren gel works great on achy joints and muscles. It comes out as a gel and is easy to rub in. Even though it says it’s for arthritis it truly is is effective on almost any ache or pain. It’s not going to cure any pain but it is by far above and beyond any other topical pain cream that we have tried.
Worst Gifts for Someone with Low Back Pain
Even though most gifts come from a good place and are intended to help there are few gifts that should avoid giving to someone even though it probably would help. Try and avoid any gifts that target anything the person may be self-conscious of their image or weight.
Some examples include:
- A posture brace they may think they look poorly
- Anything to do with weight loss or a “tummy brace”
- The “shock your abs strong while you sit on the couch” products
The holidays or birthdays can be a mentally challenging time for someone that suffers from low back pain. It’s often a time period that reminds them of how much their life has changed because of pain. Instead, it can be a time to turn the corner, and a gift to help them improve the back pain that they haven’t tried yet is the perfect gift.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is for educational purposes only. This is not a substitute for a medical appointment. Please refer to your physician before starting any exercise program.