At-home neck massagers can be a beneficial tool for reducing neck and shoulder pain. In this roundup, we’ve included several different types you can try for short-term pain relief and relaxation.
Research from 2017 indicates that massage, including self-massage, can provide short-term pain reduction and benefits such as stress relief. In addition, there’s evidence that the relaxation produced by massage therapy can help reduce pain.
Of course, chronic pain, or abrupt pain that comes on without warning, should always be checked out by a healthcare professional.
There’s a wide range of neck massagers — from small manual rollers to massage chairs with heat and vibration. Some simulate massage techniques like shiatsu or Swedish massage.
Popular types of neck massagers include:
Neck massagers range in size, function, and price. They can provide some benefits if you’re looking for short-term neck, shoulder, and back pain relief, and to reduce stress and increase relaxation at the end of a long, hard day.
The neck massagers on this list come from trusted, transparent manufacturers. We analyzed customer reviews and feedback about each product and manufacturer on multiple sales sites and on sites like the Better Business Bureau.
We included products that received significantly more positive feedback than negative. With budget in mind, we included products at various price points.
Best overall massager
InvoSpa Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager
- Price: $
- Details: This massage pillow contains eight bidirectional, deep-kneading shiatsu roller balls that users say feel like human hands. This is a corded, electric device. The control panel and DC power port are located in the positioning handles. It has three speed strength levels and an infrared heat option.
- Pros: You can use this massager on your upper or lower body. It has a 15-minute automatic shutoff, so you don’t have to worry about overdoing it. It also comes with its own carrying case, charger cord, and car charger.
- Cons: Some users report that the quality of the product isn’t what they would expect for the price.
Best massagers for the neck
VOYOR Neck Massager
- Price: $
- Details: This product contains two pliant silicon balls on each side of the inner rim. The balls are strategically placed to apply pressure on tight neck muscles. All you have to do is manually massage your neck while holding the ergonomically designed handles.
- Pros: This budget-priced neck massager doesn’t require batteries or any power source to operate.
- Cons: Some people report that the opening for the neck is tight, and wish the product was made of a sturdier material.
Best handheld massager
RENPHO Rechargeable Handheld Deep Tissue Massager
- Price: $
- Details: This rechargeable, handheld massager has multiple percussion speed options. It comes with five interchangeable massage nodes and a charger. Each charge lasts for up to 140 minutes.
- Pros: It gets high marks from users for giving a powerful, deep tissue massage.
- Cons: It doesn’t come with firmness controls.
Best massager for sports recovery
Vybe Percussion Massage Gun
- Price: $
- Details: If you’re looking for a deep and penetrative massage, this handheld massage gun may be a good choice for you. It comes with three different massage tips, designed for large muscle groups, small muscle groups, and deep tissue massage. You can choose between six percussion vibration speeds ranging from 500 to 2,400 strokes per minute. It comes with a carrying case and two rechargeable batteries.
- Pros: It can be used anywhere on the body, including the neck, shoulders, biceps, and calves. Ninety-degree rotation lets you fit the massager comfortably into the nape of your neck, without missing any aching spots.
- Cons: Users mention it has a short battery life. According to the manufacturer, this massage gun is loud. You may want to avoid using it on public transportation or an airplane.
Best massagers for neck and shoulders
truMedic Shiatsu Neck, Back, and Shoulder Massager with Heat
- Price: $$$
- Details: This battery-operated, rechargeable massager is designed to mimic the feel of human hands. It sits along the shoulders, supplying heat and massage to your neck, shoulders, and upper back.
- Pros: The controls for massage direction, pressure, and heat are located within adjustable arm straps that you place your hands into. It comes with an AC adaptor for easy recharging at home or on the go.
- Cons: Some users report this massager to be a bit heavy and bulky.
Best massagers for neck and back
Comfier Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager
- Price: $$$
- Details: This massager resembles a child’s car seat but for adults. It supplies adjustable rolling and spot massage, plus 2-D and 3-D finger-pressure shiatsu compression. It also has optional heat.
- Pros: Strategically situated rotation nodes let you massage your neck, shoulders, back, waist, and thighs. Two airbags squeeze and compress the hips, waist, and lower back, for full back pain relief.
- Cons: If you’re on the shorter side or the taller side, the massage points may not match up to the correct areas of your body.
Best shiatsu massager
Sharper Image Realtouch Massage Wireless Neck and Back Shiatsu with Heat
- Price: $$$
- Details: This wireless, rechargeable massager has six comfortable gel nodes that grip underneath muscle, for a 3-D shiatsu-style massage. It also includes an optional heat mode.
- Pros: Users say it feels like hands and thumbs.
- Cons: This massager is controlled manually by pulling on arm straps worn in front of the body. It may not be a good choice for anyone with an inability to grip easily, or with weakness in the hands.
Best manual massager
Zongs Manual Massage Ball
- Price: $
- Details: This small, manually operated massager uses a durable roller ball to apply pressure to aching muscles. You can use it on your neck while sitting or reclining. You can also use it on your shoulders or back by laying down on a hard surface with the massage ball underneath you.
- Pros: Its simple design, effectiveness, and low price get high marks from customers on several sales sites. One Amazon review mentioned that it’s a good fix for weight lifters with shoulder impingement.
- Cons: Some people report that the ball doesn’t stick out far enough from the plastic to be effective.
Best intelligent massager
HealthmateForever YK15AB TENS Unit EMS Muscle Stimulator
- Price: $$
- Details: This TENS device is battery operated and sends small, electrical impulses to the body through electrodes implanted in adhesive pads. Each pad is labeled for the body part it’s intended for.
- Pros: A large LCD display gives information about the type of massage you should choose for each area of the body. These massage types include kneading, acupuncture, and cupping.
- Cons: People with certain health conditions shouldn’t use TENS devices. Talk with your doctor before buying this device.
When it comes to neck massagers, price isn’t an indicator of quality, effectiveness, or power.
If you’re new to these devices, look for a massager that comes with a trial period and full money-back guarantee.
When considering which product to buy, ask yourself the following questions:
- What type of massage am I trying to simulate?
- Will I be massaging myself or someone else?
- If I’m massaging my own back, neck, and shoulders, can I effectively control this massager?
- Is it important to me to have multiple percussion and power options?
- Is a heat massage important?
- Do I have enough strength in my hands to effectively use a manual massager?
- What is my budget for this device?
- Can I easily take this with me?
If you have minor neck and shoulder pain from a strain or an injury, resting the area for a few days may help.
Keep in mind that everyday activities, like working on a computer or holding a phone up to your ear for long periods, can strain your neck and shoulders. If you can, try to take a break from these activities.
Here are some other tips for managing neck and shoulder pain:
- Ice the painful area for 15 minutes three to four times daily.
- Treat the area with heat and cold by alternating 15 minutes of ice with 15 minutes of moist or dry heat.
- Maintain good posture so the tendons and muscles in your neck and shoulders remain in their proper position.
- Avoid sleeping positions that place a strain on your neck or shoulder.
- If your bedding sags, consider swapping your pillow or mattress for supportive types, like a cervical support pillow and medium-firm mattress.
- Take over-the-counter pain medication when needed.
- Use over-the-counter pain relief ointment when needed.
- Try range-of-motion arm exercises.
- Do neck, arm, and shoulder stretches each day.
Neck and shoulder pain may have underlying causes that need medical support. Most of these underlying conditions respond well to over-the-counter treatments. Others may need prescribed treatments, including physical therapy, medication, or surgery.
Potential causes of neck and shoulder pain that may need a doctor’s care include:
Get acute, severe pain that comes on abruptly checked out by a healthcare professional. Chronic pain that interferes with your day-to-day, including sleep, also requires a healthcare professional’s input.
The sooner you can get a diagnosis, the sooner you can start treatment and begin to feel better.
Can you sleep with a neck massager on?
It depends. Some neck massagers, like massage pillows, are designed for overnight use.
If your massager is not specifically meant for this purpose, don’t sleep with it on. You can over-ice or overheat the area.
Electrical devices that are attached to your neck or shoulder also pose a strangling hazard.
How often should I use a neck massager for my pain?
Given the wide range of neck massagers available, the best rule of thumb is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.
Is it possible to use a massager too much?
There are no professional guidelines for using neck massagers. However, people who use them do sometimes mention overuse is possible.
If you feel discomfort, pain, or irritation while using your massager, you’re overdoing it. Talk with a healthcare professional to get their advice about daily use and timing for your needs.
Can I use a neck massager while pregnant?
Pregnancy massage, including vibrating massage from a device, is usually safe for most people after the first trimester.
However, people with certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure, may be better off avoiding neck massagers.
No matter what your medical history is, talk with your OB-GYN before using a neck massager.
Self-massage may have benefits for pain reduction and stress relief.
Many types of neck massagers can be used to alleviate back, shoulder, and neck pain at home.
Neck massagers can provide relief from neck pain caused by strains, sprains, and conditions such as osteoarthritis. In addition, they can be used to reduce the discomfort caused by tension headaches.