The use of heat therapy as pain relief dates back to 500BC when the ancient Greeks and Egyptians used the sun to help treat illnesses.
Today there are plenty of readily available heat pad products that you can enjoy in your own home.
Heating Pad Reviews
To help you choose the one that’s right for you, we’ve shortlisted 15 of the best heating pads on the market right now:
How We Review & Rate
Here at The Good Body we’ve spent years rating and reviewing health products, including heating pads.
In this article we’ve shortlisted 15 of the best products on the market, highlighting key features so you can make the right decision for you.
To come to an accurate rating we consider a number of different factors, including versatility, variety of heat settings, portability and size. We also take into consideration customer feedback based on reviews from various websites.
Taking all this information, plus our knowledge of the industry, allows us to come up with a rating that gives you the best overall view of the product.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the products out there, then we’ve put together a Heating Pads buying guide below.
We’ve explained each of the functions and features you can consider to find the right product for your needs.
How does a heating pad work?
In general terms a heating pad works by heating the surface of the skin which stimulates your sensory receptors, blocking the pain signals that are being sent to the brain.
The heat also makes your muscle tissue more elastic which releases tension, increasing your blood flow which brings more nutrients to your painful regions.
Are infrared heat pads better than electric heat pads?
Electric heat pads heat the surface of the skin and do penetrate it to an inch or just over, however infrared pads penetrate it deeper right to the bone and help increase your circulation to encourage your injury to heal faster.
It depends on the type of pain you have as to which is most appropriate for you.
How hot does a heating pad get?
Heating pads vary depending on the style of pad and brand that you go for. However dry heat pads tend to range between 140°F and 160°F with the hottest pads in the range getting up to 175°F.
Moist heating pads can reach higher temperatures, up to 180°F, as they are normally used by trained professionals, however there are options you can buy to use in the home.
Is a heating pad good for back pain?
Yes heating pads are recommended for back pain, however of course you should check with your doctor to see if it’s the right course of treatment for you.
Heat therapy can relax the tension in the back that is causing the pain and block the pain signals to the brain, providing partial relief from the discomfort.
Is a heating pad good for menstrual cramps?
Yes, heating pads are used regularly by those suffering from menstrual cramps, as the heat can help to relax the muscle contractions that cause the cramps providing instant relief.
Is a heating pad good for arthritis?
Yes and no. For certain forms of arthritis a heat pad is perfect as it relaxes the muscles, particularly for those suffering from arthritis in the hands.
However for other forms it can have an inflammatory effect so you should certainly check with your doctor or medical professional before starting any treatment.
Is a heating pad good for sciatica?
Yes, a heating pad can help relax the muscles that are pressing on the sciatic nerve, offering short term relief from the pain.
Are heating pads safe to use during pregnancy?
Opinions are quite contradictory when it comes to using a heat pad during pregnancy.
In early stages many professionals advise against it, however in the second and third trimesters heat pads that reach a moderate temperature are advised for treatment of pain, as long as they’re only used for a short period of time.
To be sure speak to your doctor before trying any form of heat treatment.
Will a heat pad reduce swelling?
No, Dr Jan Sambrook indicates that a heat pad will not reduce swelling. Where swelling occurs it’s because the muscle tissue is bleeding and by applying heat you’re bringing more blood to the area.
Can you sleep on a heating pad?
Who is a heat pad not suitable for?
From looking at the advice of various manufacturers and professional bodies, below is an example of some conditions and situations where a heating pad is said to not be suitable.
However this isn’t a comprehensive list (nor does it constitute medical advice) so it is important to always check with a medical professional before beginning treatment.
- Do not use on any parts of the body that are swollen, injured or inflamed
- Do not use on a child under the age of 8
- Do not use if you are not sensitive to heat
- Do not use if you may not be able to react to over-heating (e.g. diabetics, persons with skin changes related to illness or persons with scarred skin in the area where the pad is to be applied)
- Do not use when under the influence of drugs or alcohol
How much do heating pads cost?
Heating pads vary hugely in cost, from just a few dollars for a disposable heat pad, right up to a high end product that could be as much as $1500. Most heat pads on average, seem to sit around the $50 to $200 mark.
So heat looks like a great option for many different conditions, and with such a variety of products to select from, what are you waiting for!
- Ingraham, P. (2020). Heat for Pain and Rehab [Online]. http://PainScience.com. Available from: https://www.painscience.com/articles/heating.php [Accessed 13 October 2021]. ↩
- Ingraham, P. (see footnote 1) ↩
- Landau, M. (2020). 10 Home Remedies to Relieve Menstrual Cramps [Online]. Everyday Health. Available from: https://www.everydayhealth.com/treatment/womens-health/ways-to-relieve-period-cramps/ [Accessed 13 October 2021]. ↩
- Kambach, B. (2015). Applying Heat vs. Cold to an Arthritic Joint [Online]. Arthritis Health. Available from: https://www.arthritis-health.com/treatment/alternative-treatments/applying-heat-vs-cold-arthritic-joint [Accessed 13 October 2021]. ↩
- Kambach, B. (see footnote 4) ↩
- Funiciello, M. (2019). How to Apply Heat Therapy for Your Sciatica Symptoms [Online]. Spine Health. Available from: https://www.spine-health.com/blog/how-apply-heat-therapy-your-sciatica-symptoms [Accessed 13 October 2021]. ↩
- King, T. (2021). Is it safe to use a heating pad for sore muscles during pregnancy? [Online]. Baby Center. Available from: https://www.babycenter.com/pregnancy/health-and-safety/is-it-safe-to-use-a-heating-pad-for-sore-muscles-during-preg_1245286 [Accessed 13 October 2021]. ↩
- Sambrook, J. (2016). Heat and Ice Treatment for Pain [Online]. Patient. Available from: https://patient.info/treatment-medication/painkillers/heat-and-ice-treatment-for-pain [Accessed 13 October 2021]. ↩