Dealing with pain is not a one-way traffic. If you are an athlete or have nagging chronic pain, then you’ll know that there are so many things you can try to get good pain relief. Some days are about Tylenol or essential oils and other days you can try using back massagers, calf massagers, percussion gun massagers, or Transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS), or EMS.
One more effective remedy you can add to your arsenal is using a heating pad. The best heating pads can greatly relieve you of pain, especially from sore muscles after exercise, lower back pain, or period cramps without the risks of stomach ulcers associated with using pain medications.
They work by heating up your muscles and increasing blood flow to the area.
Heat therapy can be quite effective in relieving back pain. It can be used both to prevent further injury and to reduce the severity of your current pain. The best heating pads for back pain can be used to ease aches and pains in your lower back, such as from strains or pulled muscles. These can be thrown into your gym bag to take with you on your runs, workouts, or walks. They’re also perfect for arthritis patients who need gentle warming while they watch TV or relax on the couch.
These are the best heating pads for back pain, cramps, and joint pain you can buy on Amazon
- Mighty Bliss Large Electric Heating Pad
- Sunbeam XL Heating Pad
- Ambershine King Size Heating Pad
- PureRelief XL Heating Pad
- Homech XXXL Heating Pad
- Geniani XL Heating Pad
- MaxKare Large Heating Pad
This heating pad from Mightybliss is a soft 12″ x 24″ XL pad with moist and dry heating options and 3 heat settings to choose from. It also has a nifty 2-hours auto shut off feature in case you sleep off under the soothing warmth.
It is universally loved for the comfort and pain relief it provides with more than 5,000 5-star reviews on Amazon. If you add the lifetime warranty and cheap price, you can understand why it’s out top pick.
Our next pick is this cozy heating pad from Sunbeam also measuring 12″ x 24″ with 4 heat settings to choose from. It features a 2 hour auto shut off and the fabric is machine washable. However, it does not have a moist heating feature.
More than 1000 Amazon customers love this heating pad for the comfort and ease of use, and also for providing satisfactory pain relief.
Featuring 6 temperature settings, fast-heat technology, and overheat protection, this heating pad is loved by many customers. The fabric is soft, comfortable, and machine washable
It comes in two king sizes – 18″ x 33″ and 32″ x 25″, making them one of the largest heating pads you can buy.
This heating pad features fast heating technology that takes it from 0 to 90 F in a few seconds. It also has 6 temperature settings and offers dry and moist heating options.
Measuring 12″ x 24″, it’s large enough to use on any part of your body. Amazon customer rave about the fast heating and soft material of the heating pad.
This heating pad comes in a larger than average 17″ x 33″ size and 6 temperature settings with the option of moist heat therapy.
One reviewer mentioned “It’s a lovely feeling to have such heat radiating onto the painful areas. It feels wonderful on my legs, especially after a long day’s work. Even having it on my legs helps ease the pain from sciatica.”
With more than 1,000 other 5 star reviews, you can be sure it’s a safe bet.
This heating pad comes in a large 12″ x 24″ size and has 3 temperature settings. It is made of plush fabric for extra comfort and seems to be really good at relieving pain and soreness. It has auto-off feature, and offers both dry and moist heating.
One Amazon customer wrote, “The automatic shut-off is terrific and I love that I can have dry or moist heat”. Thousands of other positive reviews also confirm that this pad from Geniani is one of the best heating pads you can buy.
This pad is designed like a vest and conveniently covers the back, neck and shoulders. It is quite large compared to most heating pads on the market with size of 24” x 33”. It has 5 temperature settings and fast heat option that takes less than 30 seconds to become heated.
More than 1,000 Amazon customer love gave 5-star reviews to this product with one customer stating “There are no cons only pros. It is large, covers my entire back and shoulders. It heats quickly and consistently. It is soft and pliable!”
The comfier heating pad is not your typical heating pad. It is a foldable soft pad with side buttons that create a pouch to fit your feet into. Cool. Additionally, the soft polyester lining makes it very comfortable to wear.
Featuring 3 adjustable temperature control settings and fast heating up of pad within 30 seconds, it does a great job relieving pain and keeping your feet warm.
If you need a more versatile device, consider getting the Comfier heating pad.
How to choose the best heating pad
All heating pads are not equal – which is usually a true mantra to any product really. Buying a heating pad can solve a lot of problems for you (or create new ones if you choose a bad product), so here are the things you should look out for when buying a heating pad for your cramps, pain relief and sciatica.
Type of Heating pad
There are many different types of heating pads available in the market. Some are commonly used for one type of application, while others can be used for multiple applications. The following is a detailed description of 5 different types:
- Flax Seed Heating Pads – These are commonly used to make body packs or heat wraps for the torso area or legs and abdomen area.
- Gel Heat Pads – These are available in different sizes and shapes. One of the primary applications for these is to use them as hot packs on the muscles for relieving aches, pains and pains. These work best on joints and feet.
- Heating Mattresses – These are made from high-quality materials and used as a way to heat up muscle groups with the use of their back packs for back pain relief. They come in different sizes, shapes, thicknesses, and materials. Different heating mattresses may have different heat settings as well as different heating levels which can be determined by a clicker or other such device built into the mattress itself.
- Microwaveable Heating Pads – These are some of the best heating pads for back pain because they offer relief with best heat therapy. They are usually gel or other custom materials that you can heat up in the microwave and expect them to retain the heat for a few hours.
- Heating Strips – These are very easy to use heating pads. They do not come in the typical round shapes, and have a sticky side for adhering to the body area where it is used. They are available in different sizes and shapes, and can be used as hot packs on muscles as well as back or abdomen areas. They work really well when used as heating pad for cramps.
Our review focused on electric heating pads, but there are other types which include chemical and water bottles. If you’re getting an electric heating pad, you should also consider the specific mechanism as some are safer than others. Some electric heating pads have large central heating plates, while others have very thin insulated wires running through them. To make things easier, those with thin insulated heating wires are generally safer and better regulated.
Heating pads come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and textures. The amount of heat generated by the heating pads depends on the materials used as well as their thickness. Heating pads with thinner fabrics will retain less heat than those with thicker ones. Products made from thinner fabrics or sponges will have a harder time keeping the temperature up and consistent, hence leading to a heating pad that fails to function as expected.
Heating pads made with thinner materials don’t have an even thermal distribution, which means that some areas of the body are going to be cold while others are too hot. Moreover, according to best heating pads for back pain, if heat is not evenly distributed, damage can occur on the skin.
Other than thickness and distribution of heat, all heating pads made from different materials will work differently in terms of effectiveness and temperature. Therefore, it is important to look at the material used in the product to see which one works best. If you want a product that provides long-lasting relief from pain while offering a light application of heat, then go for a thin sponge-like material such as silk or foam. If you need something with better heat retention capability coupled with an even thermal distribution technique, then go for thicker materials such as flaxseed and gel.
Heating pads are quite expensive. Therefore, it’s important to get a product that will not only provide relief from acute pain but also be cost-effective. If you want the best heating pads for back pain, then make sure that what you spend is worth it.
On a first thought, heating up soft plush cloth materials might sound like a fire hazard waiting to happen, but electric heating pads have a few important safety features to ensure that this isn’t the case.
First off, many heating pads have auto shut-off mechanisms that shuts off the heating pad after some time (30 to 45 minutes) or when it reaches a specific temperature. By having this feature, many heating pads never over heat or catch fire.
Another safety feature is the use of insulated, water and shock-resistant heating wires. Many of the best heating pads fully exploit this feature by offering both dry and moist heating options.
Generally, when buying a heating pad, it is best to get one with these safety features, as seen in our top picks.
Size and Comfort
The size of the heating pad is very important because it has a direct effect on how it works. A small heating pad will feel uncomfortable to use and go out of order quickly, while a larger one will be harder to carry and not as effective. It is important to make sure the product you buy is well-sized for your body’s physiology. Although size and comfort are often an overlooked aspect of heating pads, it can make a lot of difference between enjoying your heating pad or not. On the one hand, many heating pads come in different sizes, ranging from small to king-size (XXXL), and we advise that you buy the larger sizes. This is due to the fact that it can provide a more versatile experience for you than smaller sizes.
On cold days, you can use a large heating pad as a warm blanket, and after workouts, you can fold it up and use on a specific part of your body.
When it comes to comfort, this is determined by outer fabric of the heating pad. While different brands rely on different fabric materials, you should be looking out for plush, soft, and fairly thick fabric to provide better comfort.
Warranties are a good indicator of how well a product will work over time. While there are many companies who don’t offer any warranty at all, there are some that have generous warranties that last up to 3 years and cover almost everything in the event something goes wrong with the heating pad. You should always look at the warranty before committing to a particular product. For most heating pads, you’re likely to get a minimum of 1-month warranty. However, as with most products, manufacturers tend to provide a longer warranty if their product is of good quality.
Therefore, it is better to look for heating pads with a longer warranty than the standard 1 or 3 months. We recommend at least 6 months warranty when buying a heating pad.
Frequently asked questions
1. Which heating pad is best?
We recommend the Mighty Bliss Large Electric Heating Pad if you’re looking for a heating pad that ticks all the good boxes. It a large and comfortable electric heating pad with 3 heat settings, auto shut-off overheat protection, and dry and moist heating function.
Other products we have reviewed are also highly recommended as this is a list of only the best heating pads you can buy right now.
2. Can heating pad help with constipation?
Heating pads can be used to relieve the cramping pains of constipation and help the smooth muscles in the intestine to relax and be able to function better.
During constipation, the muscles in the intestine are not able to contract properly for some different reasons causing difficulty in defecating. The best heating pads can, in theory, increase blood flow to those muscles, and help them to function better, leading to defecation.
3. Are heating pad safe during pregnancy
Heating pads are generally safe to use during pregnancy, as long as you don’t use them directly on your belly. They can provide warmth to your feet, relieve back, hips and joint ache associated with pregnancy, and even promote a healthier sleep pattern.
However, more precautions should be taken by pregnant women while using a heating pad. One of such precautions includes never sleeping with the pad plugged or use for long durations. To operate safely, you can pre-heat the pad and then turn it off when you’re about to sleep. Source
4. How do heating pads work?
A heating pad warms parts of the body to help with pain management. By applying heat to a specific part of the body, it causes the blood vessels on that part to become dilated, and leads to increased blood flow to the area.
Generally, heating pads provide heat therapy which has been proven to be as effective as pain killers in managing chronic cramping pains, post-workout muscle soreness and also help induce relaxation in cold weather.
5. How do you decide which one to use?
These different types of heating pads all achieve the same function, although each one could be more suited for use on specific parts of the body. For example, for back pain relief, heat wraps and heated mattresses which are larger and made of cloth material may be more effective than small gel packs.
On the other hand, knee pain might be better relieved by using small gel packs which can target the heat to a smaller and confined area.
6. When should you use a heating pad?
You can use a heating pad any time after an activity that requires you to put pressure on your back: shoveling snow off the driveway, moving heavy boxes from the attic, or carrying in armfuls of groceries. It’s best to apply it as soon as possible after performing these activities so that its warmth will penetrate deep into your muscle tissue before it cools down again.
7. Why do people use heat pads?
Heating pads are used because they can help reduce pain and swelling due to muscle spasms and bone aches and pains. Heat therapy aims to take advantage of all three of our body’s innate mechanisms: cellular, osmotic, and metabolic. These three mechanisms are so effective because they work together to immediately help our body’s innate pain relief system.
Heat activates blood flow and increases local temperature through convection or conduction, whereas osmosis will draw water from the cells to the target area in a confined space. Osmosis is the reason that cold packs are used externally.