Relieve neck discomfort, knead knots, and utilize the warming function to melt pain away.

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neck-massager
Credit: Amazon

Whether you're currently experiencing neck pain or you've struggled with it in the past, you know that it's no laughing matter. For athletes and people who have active jobs (or even those staring at a computer screen all day), neck pain can be debilitating. If you're in that position right now, you're probably looking for anything to ease your discomfort — including neck massager devices

But are they worth it? Here, orthopedic surgeon Brian A. Cole, M.D., of Englewood Spine Associates in New Jersey, discusses the causes of neck pain and gives his two cents on whether investing in an at-home neck massager is the right move for you.

These are the best neck massager on Amazon, according to customer reviews:

This deep tissue massager with eight massage nodes and an optional heat setting delivers customizable pain relief.

A Theragun dupe with eight attachments and jackhammer strength. It reduces knots, tension, and pain for immediate relief. 

Just $20 gets you an affordable neck massager you can use anywhere to knead away knots.

Turn your car into the best spa in town: An optional charger makes this heated shiatsu massager the ultimate driver's seat add-on.

An extra-long anti-slip handle and five intensities make it super easy to give every part of your neck and shoulders a deep tissue massage.

This pillow-style shiatsu massager offers a heated treatment you can do lying down or in an office chair. 

Three attachments help this $40 pick deliver 3,200 pulsing vibrations from head to toe, including your scalp.

Despite tackling neck and back pain with up to 3,700 powerful pulses per minute, this massager is totally cordless.

This wearable massager combines heat and pulsations for targeted relief that chronic pain sufferers welcome. 

Three colors, three modes, and optional heat settings have made this shiatsu massager an Amazon best-seller.

What Causes Neck Pain?

Neck pain can be the result of a nerve problem, a structural problem, or a muscle problem, says Dr. Cole. "Neck pain that comes from a nerve problem can be linked to a pinched nerve inside the neck or a nerve that's irritated in the neck," he explains. "Structural problems in the neck can include pain that comes from fractures or processes that comprise the bone function (like tumors or infections), as well as neck pain that can come from having abnormal curvature in the neck or arthritis affecting the joints of the neck." (Related: My Neck Injury Was the Self-Care Wake-Up Call I Didn't Know I Needed)

The last of the three is muscle pain — and it's the most common cause of neck pain since it can result from tension, according to Dr. Cole. Plus, pain can "come from fatigued neck muscles from looking up or down too long," he points out. "Muscle pain can also come from the shoulders, as the muscles that control the shoulder and that stabilize the neck overlap."

While there's a wide range of people who experience pain, Dr. Cole notes that he finds that new pain is most common in people ages 30 to 50. "Their activity level changes and the number of causes of pain increase with the beginnings of overuse injury, increasing amounts of wear and tear, arthritis, and overall increases in stress," says Dr. Cole. (This is just one reason to take care of and pay attention to thoracic mobility.)

Are Massagers an Effective Solution to Neck Pain?

Neck massagers can be effective, but Dr. Cole advises to definitely use caution. In general, "neck massagers work to increase the blood flow to the neck muscles and also work to improve the stimulation of the neck muscles," he notes.  "With these as the primary goals of neck massagers, I do find that many people experience temporary improvement of their neck pain symptoms with neck massagers."

That said, Dr. Cole warns some pulsating massagers can act as irritants — so be careful, especially if you have arthritis. "A good rule of thumb is to see how you respond to neck massagers for a short time, say 5 to 10 seconds, before increasing the amount of time the neck massager is used," says Dr. Cole. If using a neck massager increases your pain, you should stop. Also, note that not all neck pains are identical. What works once may not work subsequently, so be aware of your body's response to the treatment, as the pain could be a sign of something different. (You can also try ice, gentle stretching, and these upper back-pain exercises to ease tension.)

If you're experiencing neck pain for the first time, you may be wondering when it's time to throw in the towel and call a doctor. For one, it's never a bad idea to seek a doctor's expertise when it comes to neck pain. (After all, it's not an area of your body you really want to mess around with.) That said, Dr. Cole recommends you pay attention to where the pain occurs — i.e. is it isolated to the neck or does it go elsewhere? If it's starting to move to the shoulder blade, arm, finger tips, or the head, it's time to see a medical professional. However, if the pain is isolated to the neck, Dr. Cole suggests you call your doctor if the pain is waking you up at night or if it lasts for more than two weeks.

Dealing with your run-of-the-mill neck pain that doesn't require a visit to your doctor's office? For some immediate relief, pick up one of these top-rated neck massagers and handheld massagers from Amazon. (Related: What's Better: a Foam Roller or Massage Gun?)

Related Items

Best Overall: Resteck Massager for Neck and Back with Heat

Buy It, $58

Perfect Ratings: 32,600+

An impressive 32,600+ shoppers have left this deep tissue neck massager a five-star rating — and it's not hard to see why. It features eight massage nodes, as well as settings for power, speed, direction, and heating to create the perfect pain relief treatment. Also nice: If you experience more general back pain on top of neck discomfort, you can actually use this on both areas for some serious multitasking.

One reviewer wrote: "After years of chronic neck pain and trying physical therapy, chiropractic, and massage therapy with little lasting benefit, this item finally has me sleeping soundly." (Related: Should You Get a Massage When You're Sore?)

Best Massage Gun: Lifepro Sonic Massage Gun

Buy It, $140

Perfect Ratings: 600+

A dupe for the Theragun, this sonic massage gun releases up to 3,000 vibrations per second to deliver a powerful percussive massage. Select from eight attachments designed for different treatments: The spinal head targets your spine and neck muscles, while the pointer topper releases small knots of tension. You'll have the choice of 15 intensity settings, which reviewers say ranges from a gentle bop to "jackhammer" strength. Also good: A lifetime warranty and competitive under-$200 price. (Related: The Best Massage Gun for Every Price Point)

"I love this massage gun! I've purchased a lot of massage devices and pain relief [and] recovery tools and gadgets (including two other percussion guns) over the years to help manage a connective tissue disorder with intense muscle spasms," one shopper said. "Right out of the box I could tell the Sonic Pro is another quality product, and it has exceeded my expectations so far."

best neck massager voyor

Most Affordable: Voyor Neck Massager

Buy It, $15 (was $20)

Perfect Ratings: 2,900+

While it may look like a BDSM toy out of Fifty Shades, this under-$20 gadget can offer a deep tissue massage from the comfort of your home, office, or car. Two silicone balls situate around your neck to target the exact spot that's experiencing pain, whether you press, squeeze, or knead. And because the massager is manual, it's easier to control the level of pressure and avoid irritation, especially if your neck is more sensitive.

"I absolutely LOVE this thing. I get terrible, deep-seated pain in my neck because I'm a college student and constantly spend my time hunched over textbooks or peering down at my laptop. I have never found relief from heat pads or cold therapy, and I can only massage my neck with my arms up behind my head for so long before they get tight and achy, too. But this has changed everything! I can massage my neck and shoulders for as long as I want with literally no muscle fatigue, and I can use as much or as little pressure as I need," wrote a customer.

Best Heated: InvoSpa Shiatsu Back Shoulder & Neck Massager With Heat

Buy It, $50 (was $70)

Perfect Ratings: 19,300+
Eight roller balls — four large and four small nodes — auto-reverse every minute to evenly distribute treatment on your neck. You'll simply have to choose between three speed settings and decide whether to activate the infrared heat settings, which help promote blood flow. Reviewers note how convenient it is to use on the go thanks to the car charger.

"This is my new secret weapon (to combat neck tension and chronic pain/muscle spasm condition)," wrote a shopper. "I love everything about this product! It is strong and effective! The +HEAT setting is so soothing! I sleep like a baby when I use it before bed! I love how you can adjust the settings and choose to rotate the massage balls in a left or right motion. I am really impressed with this one you guys and I highly recommend it to everyone!"

best neck massager renpho
Credit: AMAZON

Best Handheld: Renpho Deep Tissue Massager

Buy It, $40

Perfect Ratings: 34,500+
Because this massager is handheld, it would be easy to limit its use to 5 to 10 seconds, per Dr. Cole's suggestion, since your arm might start to ache after holding it for too long. (Or, of course, you can have a friend or family member hold it for you instead.) Along with an extra-long anti-slip silicone handle, it has five interchangeable heads developed to treat different muscles in the neck, calves, shoulders, and arms.

One reviewer shared: "My wife and I are both massage therapists. I purchased this on a whim when it was featured as an Amazon Deal of the Day during this last holiday season. This massager turned out to be an absolutely outstanding purchase. We are both hugely impressed with the quality and diversity of uses. Best massager we've ever owned, by far. We love using it on ourselves and have also incorporated it into our massages on each other. It feels great for general work as well as deep work."

best neck massager comfier shiatsu

Best Pillow: Comfier Shiatsu Neck Massager Pillow

Buy It, $37

Perfect Ratings: 600+

If you want to lay back and relax or nap during your massage, this massager pillow is the way to go. It has four large massage balls that can run at two different speeds, and its nodes even emit soothing heat. If you don't want to lay down, you can fix this pillow to the back of a chair using an elastic strap.

"This neck and back massage is amazing," raved a customer. "I use this massage every day and night and I feel amazing, my neck is not stiff or in knots anymore. The massage balls rotate perfectly, and the heat is nice. The pillow is the perfect size for positioning to where it is needed whether the neck, back or shoulders. I have already recommended this to several people."

Best Full-Body: TheraFlow Handheld Deep Tissue Percussion Massager

Buy It, $40

Perfect Ratings: 4,100+

Your neck won't be the only body part feeling relief from this handheld shiatsu massager. Three attachments make it possible to deliver 3,200 pulses from head to toe — literally. The scalp attachment stimulates blood flow to the hairline, while the shiatsu and deep tissue attachments can be used pretty much everywhere else. 

One reviewer described it as "nice and powerful but with a convenient power setting that's easy to dial back when I want to work on my neck or shoulders."

best neck massager mighty bliss

Best Cordless: Mighty Bliss Deep Tissue Back and Body Massager

Buy It, $70

Perfect Ratings: 9,500+
This handheld massager is super lightweight and easy to use, and it even comes with six different massage heads. But it's not for the faint of heart, delivering 3,700 pulses of bliss to your muscles every minute. While the pick might be a splurge, it's earned over 9,500 five-star ratings from Amazon customers who considered it well worth the investment.

One shopper, who is a massage therapist, even raved that it "offers a MUCH more relaxing and therapeutic experience because it's not drumming up a racket as it's pounding out knots" — so you don't have to worry about being pulled out of your zen massage by the sounds of jackhammering coming from your device.

Credit: Amazon

Most Compact: Tens Electric Pulse Neck Massager

Buy It, $53

Perfect Ratings: 460+
Electric pulses and heat replace powerful vibrations in this compact neck massager — and the result is a device that a shopper claimed gave "instant relief" to their chronic pain. While the powerful massager looks more like a pair of headphones draped around your neck than a medical treatment, the unique C-shape gives the electrodes the perfect angle to massage the base of your neck. Plus, it comes with a remote control to toggle between 15 intensity levels and four heat settings. 

A reviewer who struggles with chronic pain claimed the wearable massager has been "super helpful."They added, "I use it in the morning, before bed and if I feel a headache coming on. Some days my neck pain is totally gone, which I have not experienced in years. I'd recommend this product to anyone suffering from chronic neck pain."

Credit: Amazon

Best Hands-Free: NekTeck Shiatsu Neck Massager

Buy It, $46

Perfect Ratings: 23,600+

Slip your arms through the sling of this best-selling electric massager and you'll have a hands-free treatment that lets you relax while the eight deep-kneading nodes do their thing, automatically swapping directions to keep the balance. The hardest part will choosing between three strengths and the optional heat mode — which turns off after 15 minutes for safety. 

One shopper said,"Love is not a strong enough word — I never would have thought that a $40 neck massager could be this good, but it literally feels like a person massaging you. What is this witchcraft!?! I use it for my entire body: feet, calves, thighs, lower back, upper back, neck. My husband is actually jealous of this thing (I've named him Tyrone). Bottom line, you need this."