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Best heating pad – reviews and buying guide

What Is The Best Heating Pad: For Back / Neck / Shoulder Pain?

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.

Throughout the years, hot stones, springs, thermal baths and volcanic hot air caverns were all used to cope with pain. The Arthritis Foundation describe how:

Applying a heated compress is one of the oldest, cheapest, and safest forms of complementary therapy. Research has shown that heat treatments can loosen stiff joints and relieve achy muscles.

A thermal bath each day isn’t really practical (sadly!), however luckily there are plenty of readily available heat pad products that you can enjoy in your own home.

We’ve taken a look at the market and handpicked a selection of some of the best heat pads available today.

Did You Know?

The Greek physician Hippocrates knew the power of heat therapy and famously said “Give me the power to produce fever, and I will cure all disease.”

Our Top 12 Heating Pads: The Hot List

Looking at each heating pad closely, we’ve highlighted the key features to help you make your decision.

Further down the article you’ll also find a handy buying guide that includes a brief explanation of each feature and answers a number of frequently asked questions.

1. iReliev Weighted Heating Pad

Apply heat and a little pressure

When you’re using a heating pad, sometimes it can be frustrating to apply the kind of pressure you need.

Too much force and you risk irritating your skin, too little and you don’t experience the full warmth.

iReliev have fixed this problem with their new Weighted Heat Pad.

You might know iReliev for creating some of the best TENS units on the market, however they have recently released a line of heat therapy products.

Their new weighted heating pad made with plush microfibers, includes light weights to allow you to mold it effectively to your body.

Heating up in seconds, the pad will automatically switch off after 90 minutes so don’t worry if the warmth soothes you to sleep.

You get an easy to use controller, with three heat therapy settings. We love how the controller can also be detached from the mat, a valuable feature that you don’t typically get with heat pads.

It means you can position the heating pad where you need it, then sit back comfortably and control the settings.

iReliev describe this pad as ‘king-size comfort’ and they’re not wrong!

It’s the same size as the popular Mighty Bliss large heating pad, measuring 24” x 12” giving you great coverage (though not as large as Homech’s XXXL pad).

Chilly users appreciated the heat of this mat, but it was the weight that was the real game changer.

They found it made the pad extra soothing and enabled them to position it exactly where they needed it with ease.

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2. Sunbeam Renue Contouring Neck and Shoulder Heating Pad

A neck wrap offering great coverage

When you’re struggling with neck pain, you need a pad that applies heat to your whole neck and shoulders.

Sunbeam Renue Contouring Neck and Shoulder Heating Pad does exactly that.

Unlike smaller heat pads that treat an isolated area, this mat contours to your neck with a tall collar delivering warmth from top to bottom.

Weighted around the edges and with a magnetic fastening it fits comfortably and can be adjusted to fit necks of all sizes.

In terms of control you have the option of four different heat levels, controlled with a simple unit on a 9ft cord.

Covered in soft micromink fabric it’s easy to wash, simply pop it in the washing machine and it’s ready for the next day.

Users reported using the wrap every day with wonderful results – one person actually called it the ‘Cadillac’ of heating pads!

One frustration with heat pads in general can be the fact that they don’t evenly distribute the warmth, however it didn’t seem to be a problem with this pad.

Many described how they could feel the warmth throughout the wrap, soothing their discomfort.

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3. Mighty Bliss Large Electric Heating Pad

Choose from moist or dry heat therapy

When you need a pad to cover a large area, then invest in the Mighty Bliss Electric Heating Pad.

Made from microplush fibers, it feels soft and comfortable, and measures in at a huge 12” x 24”.

The size of this large pad makes it extra versatile, you can lay it on your back, use it around your arm or even pop it on your shoulder to provide relief exactly where you need it.

If you love the size of the iReliev weighted pad but want to spend a little less, this is the one for you.

On the Mighty Bliss pad you can choose from low, medium or high heat settings, plus it can be used moist or dry.

Using a heat pad while moist is proven to help reduce pain and muscle soreness quicker than dry heat due to the way it helps the heat penetrate the skin.

Practically the pad can be popped in the washing machine, and Mighty Bliss are so confident you’ll love it, that it comes with a lifetime warranty.

Those who purchased the pad were falling over themselves to tell everyone how fantastic it was, with many describing it as the best heating pad ever.

People loved how evenly it heated and how satisfying it was particularly for back pain.

It also seemed to be the purrfect place for feline friends!

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4. Revix Microwavable Heating Pads for Neck and Shoulders

Versatile and flexible pads you can use hot or cold

These microwavable heating pads from Revix are seriously versatile.

Made from a stretchy fabric and with adjustable velcro you can drape one around your neck, across your shoulder or anywhere else on your body that would benefit from a little warmth.

Filled with clay beads and millets, place one in the microwave for just a few minutes and it’s ready to go.

Unlike other heat pads that require a wall socket, these can be carried with you for whenever you need some relief.

Amazingly Remix heating pads can be used for heat or cold therapy.

Cold therapy might not sound soothing. Yet it has also been shown to be effective for treating pain, particularly as a tool for back pain.

You get a set of two pads when you purchase this item, so why not heat one and pop the other in the freezer.

People shopping for a gift for an arthritis sufferer, loved how the pad could easily fit around their joints, replacing standard wheat bags which can be a little stiff.

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5. HealthyLine Far Infrared Rainbow Chakras Heating Pad

Healing at its most luxurious

If you’re suffering from pain throughout your whole body then you might want to consider the HealthyLine Far Infrared Rainbow Chakras Healing Mat.

Compared to the other heat pads on this list, this one is pricey, but just look at it!

It’s absolutely beautiful, encrusted with gemstones including Carnelian, Red Jasper and Amethyst.

Designed to help cleanse your chakra points, the mat can be used in chakra yoga practice and meditation.

Made up of 21 layers, you can enjoy both hot stone and negative ion therapy, as well as deep penetrating far infrared rays.

Research has shown how infrared therapy, which penetrates the body to gently raise your temperature, can be amazing for back pain.

Shipping with a free waterproof cotton padded cover, you can protect the pad when you store it away.

If you like the idea of a far infrared mat but have a smaller budget, then take a look further down at the Far Infrared Amethyst Mini Mat.

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6. Origins FEEL GOOD HUG Lavender, Lemon, Orange Body Wrap

An ethical heat pad with a naturally-derived filling

You want to know every ingredient of anything you’re going to use regularly on your skin.

Thankfully you’re in safe hands with Origins.

Origins is a trusted skincare brand, that pride themselves on creating products that are made without animal ingredients (except honey and beeswax!).

The Feel Good Hug is filled with naturally-derived ingredients that are blended with lavender, lemon and orange essential oils.

Place the wrap in the microwave and warm it in just a few minutes. It’ll smell wonderful and help to soothe your pain.

Lavender is a powerful sleep aid, so perfect if your pain is keeping you awake at night.

The Origins Body Wrap might not quite have the weight or flexibility of the Revix Microwavable Heating Pads, but it’s perfect for treating a small area.

It’s also a high-quality product, that arrives in premium packaging, so ideal if you’re looking for a gift for someone who’s always chilly.

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7. Sunbeam Heated Mattress Pad

Heat your whole body as you sleep

If you want true full body coverage then why not add a heated mattress pad to your bed?

This pad from Sunbeam is super soft and available in twin, full, queen or king size.

Unlike most heat pads that have a choice of three or four heat settings, this mattress cover has 10 different heat options.

Use the handy controller to select the one you want then lay back and relax.

Sunbeam’s Heated Mattress Pad also includes ThermoFine technology that provides consistent heat, adjusting automatically throughout the night to ensure you don’t get too hot.

Imagine sinking into a heated bed at night and feeling all your aches and pains just melt away.

On a practical note, it’s machine-washable, so you can keep everything hygienic.

Some did report being able to feel the wiring underneath the mattress pad when lying down.

However primarily people felt they got real bang for the buck with this affordable heated mattress pad.

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8. Nature's Approach Aromatherapy Belted Lumbar Wrap Herbal Pack

A wearable heat pad for on the go

Microwavable heat packs like the Revix are great if you’re not moving around.

Nature’s Approach provides a way to strap on the heat and keep on moving!

This affordable lumbar wrap can be heated in the microwave then strapped on the lower back using the handy belt.

Many also use it for shoulder pain as the belt can be adjusted easily enough to make it practical for other areas of the body.

Like the Origins Heated Body Wrap, the focus is on all-natural, organic materials.

Inside the pack is a blend of 12 herbs including lavender, spearmint and lemongrass – so it smells great.

People struggling with back pain loved how they could wear the pack discreetly under their clothing.

Turning it around and strapping it on to help with menstrual cramps was another popular use.

You also get to choose from a range of different fun prints, including the Celestial Indigo design (pictured above) which was our personal favorite.

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9. Sunbeam GoHeat Portable Heated Patches

Portable (and rechargeable) pain relief

The problem with investing in either an electric or microwavable heat pad is that you’re required to be somewhere that you either plug it in or heat it up!

Introducing Sunbeam GoHeat Portable Patches.

Place the patches where you need on your body, then switch on the control unit that you can clip on the back of your pants.

Choose from three different heat settings, or opt for the 20 minute high / medium cycle when you need penetrating pain relief.

You can enjoy up to eight hours of heat – what could be better on those days when your back is really suffering?

Then simply recharge the control unit and you’re all ready to go for the next day.

Shoppers described how by using the patches permanently on high power they didn’t get the promised eight hours of heat, but could get a solid four hours.

They also described how intense the heat was, incredibly satisfying for those recovering from surgery and trying to avoid taking pain relief medication.

You’re of course only able to treat small areas at any one time, however you have the portable soothing heat to keep moving on those tough days.

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10. MediCrystal Far Infrared Amethyst Mini Mat

Discover the healing power of amethyst

This mini heat pad uses the healing power of natural purple Amethyst crystals.

The stones absorb the heat releasing negative ions, which have been shown to help with stress and depression.

Amethyst stones are also able to deliver deep penetrating heat, as much as 8 inches deep below the skin for a more satisfying heat experience.

In terms of safety it has an overheat function and controller so you can get comfortable and relax without worrying about settings and timings.

We love the fact that the mat ships with a waterproof cover and carry bag, allowing you to use it at home as well as at a yoga studio or even in the workplace.

It really does look great too, with a soft suede covering and exposed centre so you can see the beautiful crystals beneath.

Compare this to HealthyLine’s Rainbow Chakras mat and you can see that you get many of the same features.

The biggest difference is the length – HealthyLine’s mat is 18 inches longer. It also offers the benefits of many more gemstones, which is worth considering when making your decision.

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11. Happy Wraps Microwavable Herbal Neck Wrap

An affordable way to manage neck pain

For neck pain and stress relief, we like the Happy Wraps Herbal Neck Wrap due to the low price tag and luxurious material that gives your neck a little hug while you carry on with daily life.

The price also includes a free eye pillow and sleep mask!

Filled with a blend of herbs and organic flax seeds, it can be heated in the microwave or chilled in the freezer if you want cold therapy.

Some users felt the heat doesn’t last long enough, however with just 1 minute in the microwave it can be reheated quickly and many commented how amazing it smells.

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12. Homech Heating Pad for Back Pain and Cramps

Cover yourself in XXXL warmth!

This extra, extra, extra large heating pad is perfect if you’re looking for something you can crawl under and create your own cosy paradise.

To put this in to context, it’s 9 inches longer than the Mighty Bliss large heating pad and 5 inches wider.

You get more control over your heat too, with six different settings to choose from.

Like the Mighty Bliss pad, both moist and dry heat sessions are possible, plus it’s made from a similar soft microplush fabric.

Homech describe how their wiring is denser than competitor products, so you get a more even distribution of heat.

Unlike the iReliev Weighted Heating Pad, the control unit is not detachable, though it does have a 9ft cord so you should be able to use it comfortably from any position.

Back pain sufferers appreciated the amount of coverage they could get with this mat and how quickly it heated.

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Types of Heating Pads

There are a number of different types of heat pad available, whether you’re looking for one for a key part of your body, an option for when you’re out and about or a specific heating method to target a certain kind of pain.

For Different Parts of the Body

Neck / Back / Shoulders

Across the marketplace there are a variety of heating pads available targeting neck and shoulder pain. These tend to be contoured to your neck and designed to drape around your shoulders or hug your neck.

Back and Spine

XL Heating Pads are available to help treat back pain when you require full coverage along your spine or across your lower back. Smaller pads are also available if you want to target a key area that is causing you pain.

Knees

Knee support heat pads are also available if you want to target heat around your knee.

With Different Heating Methods

Electric

Electric heat pads heat the surface of the skin and can reach high temperatures, they don’t require recharging and work when connected to the mains.

Infrared

Infrared heat pad claim to deliver deeper and more penetrated heat than traditional electric heating methods, as they don’t just heat the surface of the skin.

Moist

Moist heat pads like infrared can penetrate deeper in to the skin and increase tissue elasticity. They are often used when skin dehydration is a concern, so for example for patients with dry or ageing skin.

Microwave

Heat pads that are heated in the microwave, generally filled with wheat and natural remedies such as lavender, are often a more affordable option.

Non-Electric Heating Pads

Such as Snappy Heat Pads (link to Amazon listing), which require no charge, you simply snap the metal plate which then generates heat, are ideal for travelling.

For When You’re Out and About

Travel Heating Pad

Normally supplied with a handy storage bag, a travel heat pad can be folded away easily.

USB Heating Pad

Though not considered a strong option due to the temperatures they reach and the poor quality materials they tend to be made from, USB heating pads offer an alternative to carrying a bulky heat pad with power cord when travelling.

Cordless/Rechargable Heating Pad

Not just for out and about, but also at home if you want to sit somewhere but don’t have access to a plug, a cordless/rechargeable heating plan can offer just the solution.

Features of Heating Pads – What to Consider

Choosing the heat pad that is right for you can be tricky with so many different options available. See below some of the many different features on offer so you can work out exactly what product you’re looking for:

Auto Shut Off

Any product that you use in your home that heats up is obviously a danger if you forget to turn it off, or if you simply fall asleep using it.

See what auto shut off function the heat pad offers, if any, and the length of time it will stay on before automatically switching off.

Consider as well if a short auto shut off may frustrate you if you’re looking to use a heat pad for a consistent period of time.

Timer

Different heat pads offer different timer functions, giving you the ability to easily control how long your heat therapy lasts.

Size of Pad

Depending on the size of the area you want to treat there are a number of different sizes of pads available. Smaller pads for targeted pain relief and larger pads for treating wider areas such as the spine.

Number of Heat Settings

Each pad will boast a number of different heat settings, so check out the one you want before committing. Memory functions are available on some pads so they can remember the heat settings you use regularly.

Heat up Time

If you’re looking for a heat pad that you can use quickly in a morning then heat up time may be important to you. There are some that can heat up in seconds and others that will take a little longer.

Material

Different fabrics are used on the cover of the heat pad to distribute the heat effectively so it’s worth doing a little research before purchasing.

Length of Power Cord

Some heat pads boast about a longer power cord which may not seem a major consideration, however if there’s a location you’ll want to use your pad regularly consider if there’s a plug socket available close by.

Wireless Capability

Again, if a long power cord isn’t going to quite reach or if you want to use your heat pad on the go then a wireless capability could be desirable.

Temperature Reached

Considering the temperature that the pad can reach to ensure that it satisfies you and the level of heat you’re looking for.

Heating Method

The method use to heat, whether it’s electric, infrared, microwave or some other form of non-electric heat. Consider what is right for your condition.

Who Benefits from Heat Therapy?

Heat therapy is used to treat a number of different conditions:

Arthritis

Studies have shown that heat therapy can give arthritis sufferers some relief from their pain. Particularly with those suffering from arthritis in the hands, heat therapy was found to have short term benefits when used daily. However for certain forms of arthritis it can have a negative effect so it is worth checking with your doctor before you try any form of heat therapy.

Fibromyalgia

As fibromyalgia pain isn’t caused by inflammation, heat therapy is the perfect option for symptom relief, helping to relax tender muscles within the body and improve flexibility. Here are a number of different ways you can apply heat to your joints.

Muscle Spasms

Heat therapy or heat pads are useful in the treatment of muscle spasms. However professionals advise waiting at least 72 hours after spasms start to allow inflammation to go down. Moist heat is also recommended over dry heat due to the risks of dehydration.

Cancer

The American Cancer Society suggests heat therapy as a non-medical treatment method to help stimulate the skin and offer relief from day to day pain. However it isn’t recommended for those undergoing radiation treatment.

Lower Back Pain

The American College of Physicians recommend heat therapy as a treatment for lower back pain as in recent studies it has been shown to offer daily relief from pain.

FAQs

How does a heating pad work?

Are infrared heat pads better than electric heat pads?

How hot does a heating pad get?

Is a heating pad good for back pain?

Is a heating pad good for menstrual cramps?

Is a heating pad good for arthritis?

Is a heating pad good for sciatica?

Are heating pads safe to use during pregnancy?

Will a heat pad reduce swelling?

Can you sleep on a heating pad?

Who is a heat pad not suitable for?

How much do heating pads cost?

Where can I buy a heating pad?

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!

References

  1. Bierman, W. (1942) The History Of Fever Therapy In The Treatment Of Disease. [Online] Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1933808/pdf/bullnyacadmed00550-0069.pdf [Accessed 20 April 2018].
  2. Ingraham, P. (2016) Heat for Pain. [Online] Available from: https://www.painscience.com/articles/heating.php [Accessed 20 April 2018].
  3. Heat for Pain (see footnote 2)
  4. Doheny, K. (2017) 10 Ways to Relieve Period Cramps. [Online] Available from: https://www.everydayhealth.com/treatment/womens-health/ways-to-relieve-period-cramps/ [Accessed 20 April 2018].
  5. Kambach, B. J. (2015) Applying Heat vs. Cold to an Arthritic Joint. [Online] Available from: https://www.arthritis-health.com/treatment/alternative-treatments/applying-heat-vs-cold-arthritic-joint [Accessed 20 April 2018].
  6. Applying Heat vs. Cold to an Arthritic Joint (see footnote 5)
  7. Laser Spine Institute . (2018) Using hot and cold therapy to treat sciatica. [Online] Available from: https://www.laserspineinstitute.com/back_problems/sciatica_sciatic_nerve_pain/treatments/ice-and-heat/ [Accessed 20 April 2018].
  8. King, T. L. (2017) Is it safe to use a heating pad for sore muscles during pregnancy? [Online] Available from: https://www.babycenter.com/404_is-it-safe-to-use-a-heating-pad-for-sore-muscles-during-preg_1245286.bc [Accessed 20 April 2018].
  9. Sambrook, J. (2017) Heat and Ice Treatment for Pain. [Online] Available from: https://patient.info/health/painkillers/heat-and-ice-treatment-for-pain [Accessed 20 April 2018].

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