In my experience, heat therapy is probably the most under rated pain treatment.
And when combined with other forms of treatment like massage or a tens machine, the benefits can be remarkable.
So if you’re suffering with pain, do yourself a favor and buy a heating pad.
Here is my list of favorite heat pads on the market.
Best Heating Pad for Back
Pure Enrichment Microplush Heating Pad
- Extra-wide 20” x 24” dimensions
- Fast-heating technology
- Moist heat therapy
This great heating pad by Pure Enrichment shines with many different features. It has a total of 6 heat settings ranging from 105 °F to 140 ⁰F at the highest heat setting. It also has the excellent dimensions of 20” x 24” which allows it to fit nicely to most people’s backs.
It has a comfortable remote control with an LCD screen and is made with a fast-heating technology that allows it to warm up exceptionally quickly.
What customers are saying?
Some customers that look for outright hot heating pads might be disappointed by the maximum temperatures reachable by this pad. For most people and situations, however, the pad offers a near-perfect experience.
- It’s big enough to cover most people’s entire backs.
- The fast-heating technology allows the Pure Enrichment pad to reach maximum warmth very quickly.
- The moist heat therapy is very effective.
- The moist heat is good but if used on other parts other than the back it may not get as hot as everyone would like.
Best Electric Neck Heating Pad
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What customers are saying?
The majority of customers are very satisfied with the overall performance of the product. It’s worth mentioning that it may not cover the lower back of taller customers despite its seemingly large dimensions. That’s because the 25” x 26” dimensions include the neck and shoulder parts of the pad.
- The great design allows the blanket to comfortably heat up your back, neck, and shoulders at the same time.
- A magnetic clasp keeps the shoulder pads attached without any need of hand support.
- The 7.5-feet long power cord allows flexible use of the heating pad.
- The dimensions can be a bit deceiving as they include the neck and shoulder parts – the pad might not reach the lower back of taller customers.
Best Moist Heating Pad
Thermophore Automatic Moist Heat Pack
- High maximum temperature of 165 °F
- Dimensions of 14” x 27”
- 3 heat level settings
If you’re looking for a med-grade moist heat pack, the Thermophore automatic heat pack might be the one for you. It has 3 heat level settings which can reach temperatures of up to 165 °F.
The blend of moisture wick isn’t very soft to the touch but it’s specifically designed to maximize the effectiveness of the moist therapy. The dimensions of 14” x 27” give this pad more than enough length for most people although the width may leave something to be desired for some.
What customers are saying?
Some people seem disappointed with the not-so-soft material of the pad. However, in terms of its functionality and temperature potential, the vast majority of customers seems more than pleased with the product.
- This heat pack offers a powerful and fast-acting therapy.
- The high effective temperatures are great for intensive heating therapy.
- The Thermophore heat pack produces moist heat without needing water.
- The material of both the heating pad and the cover is rather harsh to the touch.
Other Great Heat Pads
UTK® Far Infrared Heating Pad Mat
- Dimensions of 23.5” x 16”
- Precise heat settings ranging between 103 °F – 159 °F
- 10-foot long power cord
For something more special, this infrared heat pad is equipped with jade and tourmaline heating parts. They help by offering a more long-lasting and deeper-penetrating heat.
The pad has a 10-foot long power cord which allows for a more versatile use. It’s also usable on almost all parts of your body and can even be rolled into a pillow to help heat up your neck.
Annber Ultra-Large Heating Pad
- Fast-heating technology
- 6 heat level settings
- Extra-long 34” x 17” dimensions
A great choice for taller people, the Annber heating pad has a length of 34 inches. It also works for both dry and moist heat therapies, and is equipped with an easy-to-use LED controller. The pad has 6 different heating settings and a 9-foot long power cord so that you can use it more easily around your home.
Insider Blue Electric Heating Pad
- 9 heating and 4 auto-off settings
- Elastic straps and 2 covers
- A carry-on bag
With dimensions of just 24” x 12” this pad may not be as big as some people would like but it has the quality to make up for it. It has a total of 13 heat functions, 4 of which are auto-off settings.
It offers a moist heat therapy option and is easy to control thanks to the user-friendly LED screen controller.
Snailax Heating Pad for Neck and Shoulders
- 5 pre-programmed massage modes
- 2 heat level settings
- Quick 2-minute heat-up time
The Snailax heat pad fully covers the neck and shoulders as well as the back area. It also comes with vibration massage capabilities divided into 5 pre-programmed modes.
The heat level settings are just two but it’s also equipped with an overheating thermostat. The Snailax healing pad has a very fast warm-up time of up to 2 minutes and offers great quality.
Sable Extra Large Heating Pad
- 10 heat level settings
- Extra-large dimensions of 33.46” x 17.72”
- Intelligent temperature control
For a large and smart Class 2 medical device, consider the Sable heating pad. It has a length of ~34” which is enough for full-back treatments of even the tallest people. It is fast-heating and has 10 different temperature settings.
It’s made out of a very soft microfiber that’s filled with heating wires. The intelligent temperature control stops the heating at the precise time and has a 10-90 minutes auto turn-off function for your safety.
Different Types of Heat Pads
There are several main types of heat pads, all offering different benefits and drawbacks:
- Electric Heating Pads – typically including heating wires inside of them, these pads are meant for shorter but more intensive use.
- Moist Vs Dry Heat – moist heat’s main benefit is that it prevents skin dehydration and improves skin elasticity. Dry heat is typically used in electric heating pads and it can be very effective but it might also dehydrate your skin.
- Chemical Heating Pads – offering both dry and moist heat, most of these pads are meant to be disposable.
- Infrared Heating Pads – typically safer for prolonged use, infrared heating pads are meant to be used for sometimes hours at a time.
- Microwavable Pads – typically a mix between disposable patches and electric pads, microwave pads are usually filled with gel or rice and are meant to be warmed up in a microwave before use. They can also be used as cooling pillows sometimes.
Health Benefits of Heat Therapy
Heat therapy, or as it’s also known – thermotherapy – has many great benefits despite its simple nature. What heat therapy does is that it stimulates the blood flow, which, in turn, brings oxygen and proteins to the treated area.
This provides relaxation, relieves soreness and pain, as well as soothes body stiffness. It also stimulates your skin’s sensory receptors which helps relieve the temporary pain and discomfort you’re experiencing.
Heat Therapy & Back Pain
A lot of back pain and lower back pain are related to muscle strain and over-exertion. These tend to create tension in the soft tissues and the muscles in your back, resulting in anything between simple discomfort and outright pain.
Heat therapy can help with those by relieving the tension in your soft tissues and muscles, improving blood circulation, and stimulating the sensory receptors in your skin.
How long should you use a heating pad?
Every heating pad has different recommendations depending on its design, functionalities, and intended use. For a general advice, most basic heating pads shouldn’t be used for more than 20 minutes at a time. Infrared heating pads, however, can be used for hours.
Can you sleep with a heating pad?
Infrared heating pads are typically designed for you to be able to sleep on them. They won’t cause skin burns, EMF radiation, or others, as long as you use them according to their specifications. They also usually have timers that will turn them off while you sleep.
Can using a heat pad help you lose weight?
Unfortunately – no. Virtually every credible study done on the subject has given a negative result to this advertising myth.
Is heat or cold better for nerve pain?
Cold therapies work by reducing inflammations and numbing down your sore tissues. This method is good for pain relief with many conditions such as Sciatica.
Heat therapies, on the other hand, work by dilating blood vessels, improving blood flow, and increasing the amount of oxygen and proteins distributed to the treated area. Heat therapies also stimulate the pain receptors in the skin, essentially distracting the brain from the pain.
Both therapies have a positive effect on various types of pain. Still, cold therapy is generally better for sharper, more acute pains, while heat therapy is to be preferred with dumber, more subdued types of pain.
In a lot of cases, alternating between cold and heat therapy yield the best results both in terms of pain relief and for recovery. Of course, in more severe situations it’s strongly advisable to consult with your physician first.
Heating pads come in various different types and designs, and in turn – serve slightly different purposes. They are all made to relieve pain and soreness, however, as well as to stimulate the healthy recovery of your muscles and soft tissues.