Have you ever heard the terms ‘heat therapy’ or ‘thermotherapy’?
Well, it’s a safe and effective pain relief method which involves applying heat to an area of the body.
This mode of treatment actually dates back to 500 B. C when Egyptian physicians reportedly used the sun as a method of heat therapy to treat certain skin conditions and illnesses.
Since then the methods have changed and over the years people have constructed their own homemade versions of heating pads using towels, rags, or even dishcloths.
However, these aren’t as effective nor as convenient as specialized heating pads that are now available to buy and use in your own home.
Using a heating pad can help with pain relief, muscle spasms, and inflamed and stiff joints.
It also increases circulation and delivers nutrients to joints and muscles, as shared by the Arthritis Foundation.
If you have any of these symptoms you may find a heating pad beneficial.
In this article, we’ll share vital information about heating pads— highlighting their benefits and the available options.
We’ll also review 10 of the top-rated selections on the market, and help you choose the best heating pad for your needs.
What are Heating Pads?
The heating pad dates back to 1911. Earl Richardson is credited for creating the first electrical heating pad .
These devices have been improved upon since then and today they are used as treatment options for different types of pain from muscles spasms and period cramps, to back pain and exercise injuries.
Heating pads can be used for 2 hours or more for intense injuries but for minor issues such as tension in the neck or back, only 15-20 minutes of use is required.
Benefits of Using a Heating Pad
You can utilize heat therapy on different areas of the body and for different reasons as well.
Let’s take a look at some great benefits of using a heating pad.
Heals Injuries & Pain Relief
This can be from exercise, sports or simply the overexertion of muscles. Since heat can help to increase blood flow to muscles and joints, heat therapy can help the injury to heal faster and alleviate soreness and pain.
Ease Stress and Tension
Tension and sore muscle are often associated with stress so once the heating pad starts to work on those sore muscles you’ll feel less tense and less stressed as a result.
Some heating pads even offer aromatherapy relief for added relaxation.
Many pain medications and prescription drugs contain addictive properties.
Heat therapy is a drug-free treatment so there is no concern regarding dependency, overdose or addiction.
Types of Heating Pads
There are different varieties on the market these days ranging in price, size and value.
Some common types of heating pads include:
The electrical heating pad has plugs attached and requires the use of electrical currents to operate it.
These are great for indoor use, but not the most ideal for travelling or for use outdoors.
Electric heating pads don’t allow for much mobility; you’ll need to be near the device during use or near an electrical outlet.
Moist and Dry Heating Pads
Moist heating pads require the use of water before applying the pad to the skin.
In some instances you might have to fill or spray the mat with water, but some moist heating mats use moisture from the air.
Dry heating pads do not require the use of water or moisture.
They can be electrical, infrared, microwaveable you name it.
These pads utilize infrared technology to heat the device and are touted as the best options on the market because they allow for deeper penetration into your skin without causing injury.
They also tend to be more expensive than the other types.
These are travel-friendly since you don’t need electricity, water, or batteries to heat the device.
These do not require the use of electrical outlets, batteries or infrared technology.
They are often made from insulated fabric and must be heated in a microwave for a specified amount of time before use.
However, these types of heating pads are not ideal for outdoor use.
What to Look for When Choosing a Heating Pad
We just listed the different types of heating pads available, now we’ll share some of the most important features to look for in the best heating pads.
This relates to start-up time and usage time. Some heating pads can get warm in a few seconds while others may take a minute or two to heat up before you can use it.
Also, some heating pads retain heat longer than others so this is certainly an important feature to note.
Ares of Use
Keep in mind also that some heating pads designed for use on specific areas of the body such as around your neck and shoulders, or back.
These are usually shaped to fit the designated area of use like a wrap-around shoulder pad or a belted heating pad meant for the lower back.
There are also multi-purpose options that can be used on any area of the body.
You may want all the bells and whistles, or you may prefer specific features and settings.
Some heating pads offer moist and dry heating options while some only offer one.
There are also features such as auto shut off options, aromatherapy relief and a range of customizable heat settings.
Find a product that offers some type of user protection – especially if this if your first purchase.
This comes in handy if the product is defective or broken, or if you simply bought the wrong device and want to return or exchange it.
Remember, not all buyer protection is the same, some warranties can be as short as 90 days while others can extend to 5 years.
The 10 Best Heating Pads Worth Trying
Now that you know the benefits of a heating pad, let’s check out some of the best heating pads on the market today.
Durability, price, effectiveness and customer feedback factored into our list.
This extra-large heating pad is designed for full-body relief; aimed at treating sore muscles in your arms, shoulders, back, shoulders, abdomen, and legs.
It is made from thick yet super-soft micro-plush fibres offering maximum comfort for daily use.
Plus it can be safely used for both moist and dry heat therapy.
Equipped with fast-heating technology, this pad from Pure Enrichment has 6 therapeutic temperature settings, and is available in blue and grey.
It is machine washable and comes with a convenient storage bag. Furthermore, there is a 5-year warranty with purchase.
Users complained that the pad doesn’t get warm enough in some instances, while others found that their pads stopped working after a few months.
Nonetheless, it is a very cost-effective pad that offers fast heating, and allows both moist and dry heat options; a good selection for first-time users.
- Fast heating
- Moist/dry heat therapy
- 5-year warranty
- Not hot enough
- May stop working after a few months
The Mighty Bliss electric heating pad promises to relieve pain in a matter of seconds.
It is made with soft micro-plush fibres, and the large size makes this pad ideal for large areas of the body such as the back, stomach or shoulders.
There are several personalized different temperature settings to address your level of pain and it offers moist and dry options.
This super-fast heating pad promises to quickly penetrate sore muscles and cramps.
The product is machine washable and comes with a hassle-free lifetime replacement guarantee.
They will also refund the cost of the item, no questions asked.
On the other hand, there have been concerns about some pads being extra hot in certain areas while some users were unsatisfied with the low heat level of their pads.
But, with its fast-heating option and lifetime replacement guarantee, it is a good pick for both new and experienced heating pad users.
- Lifetime replacement guarantee
- Moist and dry options
- Fast heating
- May have a hot spot
- Minimal heat
This brightly coloured heating pad offers 55 watts of power and is tailored to provide pain relief for the neck and shoulders.
It also has slightly weighted beads on the edges and magnetic claps to keep the heat pad on your body.
This product comes fully equipped with a digital LED controller complete with four customizable heat settings.
The pad is made from luxurious velveteen fabric, and a sponge is included in your package for use with moist or dry heat therapy.
This heating pad from Sunbeam has a 2-hour auto-shutoff setting so you can wear it to bed without worry; there is also a 2-year limited warranty with your purchase.
Some users noted a chemical smell emanating from their pads while others found it too small.
Nevertheless, the 2-hour shutoff option, plus the customizable heat setting are great features.
So if you suffer from neck and shoulder pain you can give this one a try.
- Specifically designed for neck and shoulder
- Customizable heat setting
- 2- hour auto-shutoff
- Too small for most people
- Chemical smell
This heating pad only offers full back and shoulder coverage and is designed to be worn comfortably on the back.
This pad from Renpho has an easy-to-read LED display that lets you set the appropriate temperature ranging from 100 °F up to 150°F and offers 3 treatment times ranging from 30-90 minutes.
The device automatically shuts off after the completion of treatment time.
Designed for use on multiple parts of your body to include your back, waist, neck, shoulder and abdomen, it comes with a neck snap fastener to keep the pad strapped to your body.
This pad is pricier than other selections on the list but is worth it if you are looking to sit up while using your heating pad.
- Comes with 6 heat seatings
- Straps on to your back
- Comfortable fabric
- Slightly more expensive than the other options
BodyMed provides therapeutic warmth leading to temporary muscle pain relief for inflammation, muscle strains and sprains, joint pain, neck and shoulder pain and back pain.
It does not require water since this heating pad produces its own moisture from humidity in the air.
It has user-friendly LCD controls that allow you to set your specific treatment temperature and time.
Plus, a lockout feature that guards against unintentional touching during your treatment. It also has an automatic shut off feature.
Some users have noted that the moist feature is not very effective plus it’s a bit pricey.
However, this device offers 3 different sizes and has user-friendly LCD controls for first-time users.
- 3 sizes to choose from
- User-friendly LCD controls
- Lockout feature
- Doesn’t provide enough moisture
The Huggaroo heated neck wrap is made from polyester and is weighted and balanced for deep pressure therapy no matter where you are.
This microwaveable, moist heating pad is uniquely designed for your neck, shoulders, and upper back.
It doesn’t just alleviate pain but also helps with tension and stress with its aromatherapy relief.
Each time the wrap is heated, it releases subtle herbal aromas.
Huggaroo can also be used to soothe menstrual cramps and even arthritis.
This is the only pad on our list that can also be used as a cold pack, by tossing it in your freezer; ideal for those hot summer days.
On another note, some users found that the pad doesn’t retain heat for very long, while some pads ripped at the seams.
Despite this, if you have pain and strains in your neck and shoulders this is a viable option; it works as heat therapy and a cold pack, provides aromatherapy relief and is travel-friendly.
- Aromatherapy relief
- Moderately priced
- Heat therapy plus cold pack
- Good for neck pain
- Doesn’t retain heat
- Seams rip easily
This large heating pad from Anbber offers full-body relief and comes with elastic bands to easily attach the pad to any part of your body.
The pad is washable and made from breathable, polyester and micro-plush fabric, plus you can choose from dry or moist heating options. It works for shoulder and neck pain; menstrual cramps, as well as spinal and back pain.
This one comes equipped with an easy-to-operate digital LED controller, and it has between 6 personalized heat settings.
There is also a 2-hour auto-shutoff feature which not only prevents excessive heating but also conserves energy.
Moreover, the company offers a lifetime warranty, so you can purchase this item without worry.
There have been complaints of some products overheating while other users had issues with the controller but, remember this pad comes with a lifetime warranty so if there are any issues you have the option to return it.
- Lifetime warranty
- 6 personalized heat settings
- Breathable fabric
- May overheat
- Controller may malfunction
As the name suggests, this adjustable back brace was specially designed for specific areas of the body.
It has a waist wrap design for lower back pain, as well as pain in the abdomen, legs, and knees, and also helps with strain in the lumbar muscles.
This heating pad utilizes FIR therapy (far infrared) which has been scientifically proven as a more effective option than conventional heat therapy.
This is because it penetrates deeper into your skin than regular heat therapy methods without injury to your skin.
The Arris lower back heating pad is rechargeable and has 5 heat levels. It also has a built-in thermal protection module, to prevent overheating.
Users were not impressed with the short battery life, which requires several hours to recharge. Plus the pad only comes in one size.
Nevertheless, it seems like a good selection for those with lower back pain; it has 5 heat levels and uses FAR infrared technology to penetrate deeper into your skin.
- Built-in thermal protection module
- Uses FAR infrared
- 5 heat levels
- Battery requires hours of charging
- Comes in only 1 size
- Short battery life
This extra-large heating pad utilizes safe FAR infrared heat which feels like direct sunlight hitting the skin.
It is made with tightly woven carbon fibre and has three different heat settings ranging from low to high.
Created to help deal with your arthritis, tendinitis, fibromyalgia, and muscle spasms; this pad from Venture Heat promises relaxing relief to large areas of the body.
It is made with innovative lay-flat carbon fibre heating technology, and if you have sensitive skin or suffer from allergies, this soft fleece heating pad is hypoallergenic on one side.
It has fully water-proof digital controllers and a one-hour auto shut-off feature, for your safety.
This FDA registered product is low voltage and there is no harmful EMF exposure to worry about.
However, the item is a bit pricey and users complained that it took a long time to heat up; some had issues operating the on/off button as well.
Nonetheless, if you want a travel-friendly, hypoallergenic option, this may be the best choice to consider.
- FDA registered
- Hypoallergenic fleece
- Issues with on/off button
- Takes a long time to heat up
This fast-acting heating pad by Sunbeam heats up 3 times faster than standard heating pads – 30 seconds!
This is due to Sunbeam’s patent-pending technology, XpressHeat, designed for flexibility and comfort – helping to relieve strained muscles anywhere on the body.
It offers both dry and moist heat options and has a digital LCD control for ease of use.
You can switch between 6 personalized heat settings, and the controller has an auto shut-off feature to prevent excessive heating.
The machine-washable fabric is micro-plush, offering comfort and quality. Plus this pad can cover large areas of your body such as your shoulders, spine and legs.
It comes in three sizes, small, standard and x-large, with a range of colours to include burgundy, grey, green and red.
The product is sold at a great price and your purchase comes with a 5- year limited warranty.
In some instances, the controllers melted while some users were unsatisfied with the heat level of the product.
Even so, the heating pad comes in three sizes, heats up in 30 seconds and is moderately priced to suit any budget.
- Heats up in 30 seconds
- 5-year limited warranty
- 3 sizes
- Controller may melt
- Not enough heat
The Best Heating Pad Recommendation
With over 10 thousand reviews online, it’s no surprise that this heating pad by Sunbeam takes the top spot as the best heating pad.
Designed with XpressHeat, the patent-pending technology allows the pad to heat up in 30 seconds – faster than similar pads on the market.
It gives you the option of both dry and moist heat therapy and has an easy-to-use digital LCD controller.
There are also 6 personalized heat settings, and an auto shut-off feature to prevent excessive heating.
The Sunbeam Heating Pad is made from micro-plush fabric and comes in three sizes and four colours.
It is also reasonably priced and comes with a 5-year limited warranty.
Tips and Warnings
Medicalnewstoday warns against using heating pads on an infection, or immediately after an injury.
It is also advised that young children, elderly persons and those with diabetes refrain from using heating pads.
Additionally, if you are pregnant do not use any type of heating pad on your abdomen or even around the pelvic area.
Also, if you have heat sensitivity, it is advisable that stay away from any form of heat therapy.
Before this article ends it’s important to remind you to read the instructions on the product carefully to avoid any harm or injury when you use a heating pad.
Also, be patient and give the product time to work before dubbing it ineffective.
With most things, consistency is often the key to seeing results so keep at it, and hopefully soon, you’ll be on the path to a pain-free life.