More than 1.5 billion people around the globe suffer from some form of chronic back pain. And because you’re here, you’re almost certainly one of them. Can Back2Life finally provide you with some much-needed relief?
Back2Life uses something called continuous passive motion to help open up compressed vertebrae, release built-up pressure on nerve endings, naturally align the spine, and introduce motion so movement becomes easier. This way, the company claims to address upper, middle, and lower back pain, and to help you sit, sleep, walk, lift, and comfortably enjoy your favorite activities again.
All you need to do is lie back, relax, and let Back2Life do the work for you twice daily (each session is 12 minutes) and it promises to help ease general back discomfort, sciatica, skipped discs, and muscle spasms. It also adjusts to your height in seconds and stores anywhere, which is why more than 1 million Back2Life devices have been sold in the US to date.
If Back2Life works as well as the manufacturer claims, then it just might earn the title of an “extraordinary medical breakthrough.” But is this what you can realistically expect? We’ll lay out the facts so you can make a more informed decision.
How Does Back2Life’s Continuous Passive Motion Therapy Work?
When it comes down to it, continuous passive motion therapy is exactly what it sounds like:
- Continuous = Ongoing
- Passive = The machine does all the work
- Motion = Movement
Specifically, CPM machines were developed to aid in joint recovery (usually for knee replacement and ACL reconstruction) following surgery or trauma, which work by moving the joint through an ever-increasing range of motion. In turn, this is thought to improve nutrient flow to the joint and prevent scar tissue from forming.
The difference here is that Back2Life represents a departure from normal CPM devices in that it’s intended to address back problems instead of joint pain. You’ll lie on your back, lift your legs, bend your knees about 90 degrees, and rest both calves on top of its ergonomic leg support. As your legs rest there, Back2Life’s motor will:
“… automatically move your lower body in a slow, rhythmic oval pattern, engaging upper, middle, and lower back exercises without any physical exertion. This motion gently releases pressure between the vertebrae, loosens tight back muscles, and realigns the spine, addressing and relieving some of the most common root causes of pain in the lower back without adding stress or strain to your body.”
Here’s the thing: The only clinical studies related to CPM and back problems encountered during our research were for a similar device named Kyrobak. We’ll come back around to this product in a moment, but for now, it’s important to note there seems to be little clinical evidence showing the overall efficacy of CPM for relieving back pain.
The manufacturer does claim that, “Back2Life underwent clinical research in medical institutions and was tried on hundreds of users before being released to the public,” although they don’t provide the results of this research on their website.
Clinical evidence notwithstanding, another factor to consider is that the treatment you use is largely based on your underlying condition. Allow us to explain…
What’s Causing Your Back Pain?
Any time we’re reviewing a product that claims to address back pain, the first thing we need to discuss is the underlying cause of your discomfort. Why?
Think about it this way: If you have a slipped disc in your lower back, although you might experience similar pain as someone suffering from sciatica, the treatment recommended by your physician will likely be very different. Then, even if they did prescribe the same treatment, your body could respond wonderfully, while someone else might not experience any relief at all.
The point is: 1) Effectively treating chronic back pain revolves around addressing the underlying condition, and 2) no one treatment will work equally well for every patient.
What if your underlying condition is a herniated or bulging disc?
Back2Life vs. Herniated & Bulging Discs
In the Back2Life video, we watched as the hosts demonstrated what happens in instances of a herniated disc (the jelly donut example) and a bulging disc (the pink balloon example).
According to them, these conditions can manifest as the result of aging, accidents, computer use (sitting at a desk all day long and not moving your back like you should) obesity, and more. In turn, this can lead to muscle tension, spasms, nerve issues—and specifically compression. Is this really the case, and can Back2Life provide any relief?
What Is a Herniated & Bulging Disc?
According to the Mayo Clinic, herniated discs (also known as slipped or ruptured discs) occur when spinal discs lose water content due to the natural aging process and normal wear and tear. As a result, they become less flexible and more prone to tearing or rupturing. If this happens, your spinal bones can grind together or compress nerves, sometimes leading to debilitating pain.
Aging and normal wear and tear are also the main contributors to bulging discs, which is also the result of water loss. Instead of rupturing, however, the disc’s outer fibrous ring bulges outward and is unable to “snap” back into place, leaving a bubble of sorts in place.
Does Back2Life Relieve Herniated & Bulging Discs?
Now, we’ve come full circle. Even in instances of the exact same diagnosis (e.g. herniated disc), a wide variety of treatments are available that may have more of an effect on one patient than on another. These include medications, manual adjustment and physical therapy, as well as surgical procedures.
To this extent, although Back2Life alludes to the fact that the device can address herniated and bulging discs, they don’t come right out and say it—nor do they tell us exactly how the device is supposed to provide relief. They do mention that it could help ease general back discomfort, sciatica, skipped discs, and muscle spasms, but we’d be wary of its ability to address anything more severe.
Why? Because there’s little-to-no clinical evidence available showing that CPM devices can relieve any type of back discomfort, whether related to herniated and bulging discs or anything else. On top of this, there seems to be a lot of wariness about the technology within the medical community, which we’ll discuss next.
Is CPM a Popular Treatment Within the Therapeutic Community?
To get an idea of how continuous passive motion treatments are looked upon in a professional setting, we spoke with Matt Likins, an orthopedic physical therapist with 24 years of experience treating spinal pain and disability. Here’s what he told us:
“I have seen several of these types of devices advertised and the term bunk comes to mind. You could write an article about literally hundreds of medical home remedies that have absolutely no science or research behind them, and these products would fit right in. The sorry fact is that when people are in pain they are willing to spend money on nearly anything that offers relief, no matter how specious the claim. I bought a 1910 issue of Strength magazine at an antique fair just because of the home remedy ads in the back of the magazine. The devices have changed, but the style and claims have not.”
Certainly, this doesn’t mean that everyone within the therapeutic community feels the same way, as Dr. Marc Darrow, a board certified Physiatrist, provides his professional endorsement on the Back2Life website. However, with such sharply contrasting opinions, we think it’s certainly something to keep in mind.
Will Back2Life’s Continuous Passive Motion Cause Any Side Effects?
Although CPM might not exactly have reams of evidence supporting its efficacy for back issues, the good news is that it probably won’t cause any side effects, either.
However, if you’re suffering from any kind of back problem, be sure to speak with your doctor before ordering Back2Life. After all, there could be many instances where a CPM device aggravates your problem instead of alleviating pain.
Andrew Walker, a Physical Therapist at PhysioWorks Sports and Wellness, tells us about another—perhaps unintended—consequence of CPM devices:
“My experience is that where I have seen CPM used the patient expects it to do the work for them and they are therefore less effective in doing their exercises.”
Who Shouldn’t Use Back2Life?
According to the company, you should not use Back2Life if you have:
- Undergone back surgery, including spinal fusion, in the last year
- Undergone thigh surgery in the last six months
- If you suffer from grade 2 or higher Listhesis (spinal misalignment)
- In cases where there is central pressure on the spinal cord with the following symptoms: poor balance, urinary problems, numbness in both legs
- If you are pregnant
Back2Life also comes with a 300lb weight limit. Finally, remember that you’ll have to bend your legs and lift them into place in order to use Back2Life, so if your back injury prevents this positioning, it might not be your first choice.
The fact of the matter is that, clinical evidence and potential downsides notwithstanding, if a device like Back2Life finally relieved your back pain, you’d probably pay any amount. Is it expensive?
How Much Does Back2Life Cost?
Each Back2Life device is priced at five payments of $29.99, plus free S&H, bringing your total to $149.95.
With your purchase, you’ll also receive a pair of Posture Fit insoles, which promise to give you “perfect posture” and to cushion impact points, along with a 28-page, full color Informational Brochure and User Manual.
If you choose, additional products can also be purchased through the Back2Life website:
- Ankle Weights: $9.95 plus $2.99 S&H
- Posture Fit Pillow w/Comfort Mat: $29.965 plus $4.99 S&H
All Back2Lifes come with a 30-day refund policy, less S&H charges. Important note: According to Amazon (more in a second), the device weighs about 18 pounds, so it’ll probably cost you a pretty penny to send it back to the manufacturer.
Back2Life also comes with a 1-year warranty against defects in materials or workmanship.
In order to request a refund or process a warranty claim, Back2Life’s customer service department can be reached at 877-522-2586 or via an online form.
What Are Customers Saying in Their Back2Life Reviews?
On Amazon, Back2Life had an average rating of 3.8 stars, based on 241 customer reviews at the time of our research. Like nearly any other pain relief device on the market, most compliments referenced reduced pain and discomfort, while most complaints referenced failure to work.
Back2Life had a slightly higher rating of about 4.5 stars on Brookstone.com, with most of the same compliments and complaints found on Amazon.
Finally, after experiencing no benefits during their Back2Life trial run, ShamVsWham noted: “While it is an interesting concept, I was not able to find any credible scientific evidence supporting its claims.”
From a company perspective, Back2Life is wasn’t listed with the Better Business Bureau at the time of our research. We also found a NutriLiving by Nutribullet link at the bottom of the Back2Life website, although it’s unclear if the companies are related.
Will Back2Life Help Your Back Pain & Discomfort?
The HighYa team has written dozens of reviews over the years for a variety of pain relief and back-related products, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that everyone’s different. After all, there can be hundreds of different causes of chronic back pain, each of which can be addressed in any number of ways, depending on your diagnosis.
The point is that what works fantastically for you might be a total dud for someone else, and vice versa. The solution? Giving Back2Life a try is the only surefire way of figuring out if it’ll work for you. Just remember that it’ll probably cost a lot of cash to ship it back to the manufacturer if you’re not satisfied.
Also, with competitors like Kyrobak, remember that Back2Life isn’t the only player in the back-related CPM industry.
In the mean time, most of us have lifestyle habits that can exacerbate our back discomfort, like sitting in front of a computer all day, standing on our feet too much, and not getting enough exercise. To perhaps help alleviate this without spending a lot of money on an electronic device, Matt recommends, “Recent research has just shown (once again) that the best defense against recurrent lower back pain is a consistent program of exercise. ANY exercise. One-year recurrence rates were lowered from 80% to 40% among consistent exercisers. 'Motion is Lotion.'”
Andrew mirrored this sentiment when saying, “From a pain science perspective, it is more effective to move yourself with good education that have a machine move you in an manner you do not have full control of.”
Bottom line: If you’re suffering from general back discomfort due to sitting or standing all day (or other minor lifestyle factors), then it’s reasonable to believe that the gentle stretching motion provided by Back2Life could provide some relief.
However, in our opinion, the Back2Life website doesn’t effectively make the case that it would be effective for anything more severe, especially not bulging or herniated discs.
Did you order Back2Life? Did it live up to your expectations? Tell us about its performance—and anything else you’d like to include—by writing your very own review below!