Friday, December 8, 2023

My neck and shoulders feel better than they have in years


Regular readers will know that almost two decades ago, I suffered a severe job-related injury that left me with a fused spine and serious nerve damage in my lower back.  Since then, I've been in pain 24/7/365, and had limitations on movement, ability to lift any meaningful weight, and so on.  Over time, as my spine adjusted to a much more limited range of motion, I began to experience pain and stiffness problems in my neck and shoulders, too.  They've been getting steadily worse.  Chiropractic treatment and massages haven't fixed it, although they can temporarily alleviate pain;  but they're pretty expensive.  I also tried a heating pad for my neck and shoulders, which feels good while I use it, but only produces minor temporary relief - nothing long-term.

Recently, someone recommended that I try the Snailax Shiatsu Neck and Shoulder Massager.

It's a shiatsu-type massager with a kneading, probing motion, not just a hot pad for the neck.  I use the arm/hand loops to pull it reasonably tight against my neck, which adds to its effectiveness.  I've been using it for almost two weeks now, at 15 minutes per session, and it's made an amazing difference to my neck and shoulders.  Most of the stiffness and much of the pain has receded, and the little that's left is responding well to ongoing (daily) use of the massager.  I expect that given another couple of weeks' use, they'll be negligible;  if I'm lucky, they'll be gone altogether.

I've seldom been more impressed by how well a product works.  After years of enduring increasing pain and restricted mobility in my neck and shoulders, it feels almost miraculous - which sounds like hyperbole, I know, unless and until you've had to endure being locked up solid in that area by muscle and nerve issues.  Those who have will understand my joy at being relieved of that burden.  I'm also able to use it on different parts of my back and shoulders.  It's probably not as good as a full-back massage pad, but as a "problem spot treatment" it works reasonably well.  If you have muscle-related neck and shoulder problems, and haven't been able to find a solution, I recommend this product very highly.

This model is powered by a plug-in adapter, but there's also a rechargeable model if you prefer to use it without a cord attached.  I haven't tried the latter yet, but I plan to.  If it works as well as the plug-in model, it'll be very handy to carry in the car on long trips.  I also plan to try the same company's Full Body Massage Chair Pad.  It won't be able to relieve the area of my spinal fusion - that's pretty much frozen solid - but if it helps the rest of my back muscles I won't complain.  The Shiatsu Foot Massager also looks promising for future reference.  (There are any number of competing products out there, some of which look almost identical to the Snailax versions - typical Chinese practice, where one factory may "pirate" a single design under several different labels.  However, since I haven't tried any others, I can't recommend them from personal experience.  That's not to say they may not be as good, of course.  YMMV.)

The cost of these products may raise an eyebrow or two - they certainly did mine, being on a limited budget.  However, when one compares it to the cost of a massage or chiropractic adjustment, it looks a lot more reasonable.  For example, around here I have to pay $60-$70 for an hour-long back massage.  That's about a third more than the price of the massager - but I can use the latter every day without paying any extra, so the "cost per treatment" plummets.  The foot massager is also less than the price of one massage, while the larger and more complex chair pad costs a little more than three massages - and, again, one can use them as often as one likes.  I hope they'll hold up in long-term use, but in all honesty, even if this neck and shoulder massager stops working after as little as a month, I reckon I'll have had my money's worth out of it.  (Fortunately, thousands of positive customer reviews provide relatively few complaints of it breaking down.). When one is calculating a cost-benefit analysis in terms of pain and mobility (or the lack thereof), it adds a lot more realism to price comparisons.

In general, highly recommended.

(Note:  I paid for my own massager, and have not been compensated in any way by the manufacturer or distributor for reviewing it here or mentioning their other products.  They don't even know I'm doing it.)



Anonymous said...

The rechargeable version works well - I have not tested how long a single charge lasts but it can certainly operate for 15+ minutes. It also holds a charge and does not need to be plugged in when not in use. I generally use mine plugged in, but the performance of the massager seems to be the same whether plugged in or operating from the battery. You might consider pairing some stretching after you use the massager to hopefully get some more lasting improvement.

Anonymous said...

Peter, Thank God you've been granted some relife! I've been a reader of this blog since "I don’t know when" and I'm thrilled something is reducing your pain.

God bless.


Francis Turner said...

I'm glad you've found something that helps.

I wondered whether a full massage chair would be worth buying and then saw that prices start at around $1000 and go up fast so maybe not.

MrGarabaldi said...

Hey Peter,

Can you post a link or is it something that I can get through Amazon?

Peter said...

@MrGarabaldi: The highlighted names of the products are links to Amazon. Click on the name and it'll take you there.

nick flandrey said...

Hey Peter, having some similar issues, I find they are exacerbated by doing a lot of keyboard or mouse work... with all your recent flood related issues, could part of your relief be because you are not in your normal routine at your computer?

I'm not asking to troll or knock the product, just added it to my Christmas list, but because it's an opportunity to make changes to your workspace if it turns out to be part of the problem.

Making changes to the tools you use to make a living is .. well nervewracking seems overly dramatic, but changing keyboards (to a gamer keyboard with clicky keys) made a big difference in my productivity and I'm thinking about changing to an upright mouse to have a more natural rotation of my wrist... and I don't do any significant reading on my right hand monitor anymore. Even that subtle turn of the head can trigger neck issues. I now drag whatever to my center monitor to read, then put it back on the right when done.

There is another "hack" I found useful in the long battle over household temperature and my sore back, I got a seat heater accessory intended for the car that I put on my office chair in the winter. That gives me a very warm and comfortable space, while my wife can have the cooler house she prefers. I've got a 12v cigarette lighter adapter that plugs into the wall to run it. Cool means "painful" to me and my joints...

Glad you are getting some relief. Chronic pain is debilitating.

Hamsterman said...

Congratulations on finding something that works, and not giving up hope!

FeralFerret said...

Glad that you are able to get some relief with this product.

I have a competitor's version of the foot massager that I bought a couple of weeks ago. Honestly, it tends to be painful for the first five to ten minutes, but after that my feet start to relax and after 15 to 20 minutes they feel much better. It seems to eliminate much of the soreness in my feet. The only challenge is getting past the first few minutes. My feet are not nearly as sore during the day since I started using this at night. YMMV.

BobF said...

I'm on my 4th day of a spinal cord stimulator test and the results are amazing. After almost 20 years on opiates of one variety or another I am SO looking forward to the real thing. I've been told I have to wait 30 days after test to do the final thing. Test ends Monday when they take the leads out and untape (OWIE, there is a LOT of it!) the gizmo from my back.

Anonymous said...

Bought this and it does help the neck and shoulder area for me.I've used Botox injections too for over 15 years. Neck and back pain are no fun.Thanks for the heads up.