If you have shopped for over-the-counter pain relievers lately, you will have likely noticed that there are plenty of pain relief patches that are available on the market. Many people commonly use these patches for pain relief, especially along the spine. At any point in time, 31 million Americans experience back pain ranging from mild to extremely severe and ultimately debilitating. While about 58% of all people with back pain take prescription medications to ease their pain, others have come to rely more predominantly on non-medicinal methods of pain relief, including using pain relief patches.
Do Pain Relief Patches Work for Back Pain?
Let’s start this review by assessing what’s in the average pain relief patch. Most patches contain capsaicin (an ingredient found in chili peppers), camphor, methyl salicylate (wintergreen oil), lidocaine, and menthol. The patches that contain menthol produce a cooling sensation while those with either methyl salicylate or capsaicin create more of a heated effect.
The way that these ingredients work is that, when they are topically applied to the area where the pain is located, they cause an inflammatory response there. This stimulates the nerves in that area, producing a much milder sensation and basically distracting from the previous pain sensations.
Those with chronic back pain will likely be prescribed topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Voltaren or Flector. There is some evidence that suggests topical NSAIDs and pain relief patches are a lot safer than NSAID pills, which are known to cause internal bleeding if too many are taken over an extended period of time.
Of course, these topical treatments won’t cure back pain; they simply provide temporary pain relief and should be safely used in conjunction with doctor-prescribed treatment methods.
Top 5 Best Back Pain Relief Patches
So, what is the best patch for back pain? Let’s take a look at the top rated pain relief patches for back pain.
1. Salonpas Pain Relief Patches
If you suffer from arthritis, knee, joint, spinal, or cervical pain, Salonpas has the best patch for back pain. These pain relieving patches treat lower back pain (otherwise known as lumbago), chronic lower back pain, muscle pain, backache, sciatica, and more. Their ratings are exceptionally high, and they are often a recommended buy from those who’ve tried them.
- Their larger patches cover a vast area of skin.
- Works for up to 8 hours at a time.
- Soothes pain with methyl salicylate, menthol, and camphor.
- Works well for mild to moderate pain levels in those with fibromylagia and myofacial pain syndrome.
- They can be difficult to remove and are best removed when they are wet.
- They can be painful to remove when dry since the adhesive is very strong.
- They might not work for chronic and severe pain levels.
2. Tiger Balm Pain Relieving Patch
Tiger Balm is a brand that traces back to the 1870s when a Chinese herbalist constructed his own small medicine shop. Now, this brand of pain relief has patches that target muscle, joint, and lower back pain. The patches include menthol, camphor, and capsicum extract.
- These patches are easy to use and can be removed with ease.
- They do not stain clothing or feel greasy.
- The hydrogel patch is ventilated and contours to the body.
- Painless to remove despite having a strong adhesive.
- Customers have had issues with quality control (including not enough patches being contained in the box and the box appearing to be damaged).
- Might be awkward to use on certain areas of the body, such as the hips and knees.
- It is more expensive than other products on the market.
3. Icy Hot Extra Strength Medicated Patch
Third on this list of the best back pain relief patches is the popular brand Icy Hot and its extra strength medicated patches. These patches are ideal for those who want to exercise with patches on. Simply apply the patch to the targeted pain area 15 minutes prior to starting your workout. These medicated patches contain 5% menthol and can cover a large area of skin.
- These patches have a strong adhesive that does not curl up around the edges like other patches tend to do.
- These patches can help alleviate pain from pulled muscles.
- They work well for those who must sit for long periods of time (for example, while at work or while on a long plane ride).
- Can easily be applied to the shoulder area.
- Works on areas where there is pain stemming from old injuries.
- A cost-effective option compared to other pain relief patches.
- Might not be as effective for people with severe sciatica.
- Patches might feel too sticky for some people.
- Might not work for some people with chronic hip pain.
4. Absorbine Jr. Ultra Strength Pain Relief Patch
Absorbine’s Ultra Strength Pain Relief patch is fast-acting and penetrates deep to help treat mild to moderate amounts of pain from arthritis, bruises, strains, sprains, and backaches. There are six large patches included in one box. These patches contain 6.5% menthol.
- These patches are longer-lasting than other patches on the market, lasting the full eight hours as specified on the label.
- The medication is inside the patch and therefore will not create stains on clothing.
- They work well for arm or shoulder pain.
- They produce a cool and relaxing sensation.
- Some customers might not like how they smell.
- They’re only meant for short-term use.
- They are slightly more expensive than some other brands.
5. RelieveIT Pain Relieving Gel Patch
These gel patches are fast-acting and contain an array of natural ingredients. Its active ingredient is 7% Arnica montana 1X HPUS. Arnica montana is otherwise known as wolf’s bane and is a homeopathic topical treatment for muscle aches, sprains, bruises, joint pain, and inflammation. In a survey of pain patients, RelieveIT found that 85% of respondents were satisfied with the relief provided by the patches.
- Their scent is very mild and not as unpleasant as those of other patches.
- Arnica montana does not create any chemical dependence for pain alleviation.
- Relief can last for up to 24 hours, whereas most products only offer 8 hours of relief or less.
- These can easily be wrapped around the leg or arm as well as placed on the back.
- Might not be as effective (or cost-effective) as arnica gel itself.
- The patches do not have a strong adhesive.
- A few customers have reported feeling dizzy or nauseated after applying these patches.
If you suffer from back pain, a great pain relief patch can make a huge difference, even if the relief is somewhat temporary. Be sure to consult your doctor if your pain worsens over time or if you experience any negative side-effects, although these pain patches are generally considered safe for most adults to use.