Before the invention of the heating pad, people often used a bed warmer to keep themselves warm at night. This method consists of filling a metal pan with coal and tucking it between the sheets. That does not sound very safe, now does it?
This dangerous practice was eventually replaced with a hot water bottle. A worthy successor I would say. Definitely beats waking up in flames. In addition to providing warmth, another benefit of hot water bottles was that the heat could be applied to specific parts of the body for therapeutic purposes.
Taking that feature into today, we have the modern heating pad that is good for both pain relief and warmth while also being much safer. Whether you are looking for a bed companion (even if you have a partner) or alleviation from discomfort, these are the best heating pads on the market!
What is the best heating pad?
To be honest, there is not one. But do not fright, there are many good ones on the market! It is a matter of which benefits you are looking to get from your purchase.
For instance, are you looking for the best heating pad for fibromyalgia or just the best electric heating pad?
While the term “heating pad” is often used to encompass all the types that we will discuss, it is important to know and understand the differences between them. They all have strengths and weaknesses that one should know about before making an investment.
Chemical heating pads are often in the form of disposable packets. This type of heating pad can be categorized even further based on the chemicals they are composed of. However, the general idea is that the user will start a chemical reaction that will generate heat for a couple of hours and then dissipate.
Chemical heating pads are convenient for occasional use but other forms (non-disposable) of heating pads would be more well suited for frequent treatment.
Microwaveable heating pads are made of flannel fabrics and are filled with grains such as rice, buckwheat, or beans. As their name suggests, these heating pads can be heated using a microwave. The grains inside the pad acts as an insulator and keeps the pad warm.
Microwaveable heating pads has an added benefit over chemical heating pads in that they can be reused. Furthermore, this type of heating pad can be constructed as a do-it-yourself (DIY) project from materials found around the house.
Electric heating pads are mostly made out of electric coils wrapped inside a flexible pad. These types of pads are plugged into an outlet and the temperature can often be controlled via a remote or dial. Furthermore, electric heating pads are able to distribute the heat more evenly over its surface area when compared to the other types of heating pads.
Another benefit of electric heating pads is that they usually have an automatic shut-off timer feature. This can prevent burns from prolonged use, especially if you use it when sleeping. Moreover, some electric heating pads come with washable covers.
Within each of the aforementioned types, there is the option of moist heat or dry heat (sometimes both). This choice is mostly a preferential decision for most consumers.
Most users say that dry heat feels more comfortable and is easier to set up. On the other hand, others state that moist heat is better at easing pain and soreness. However, moist heating pads requires the user to damp a sponge and insert it into the pad before operation.
Most people think that the heat from heating pads help alleviate pain. This is certainly correct but then the question is: why does heat act as a pain reliever?
In his article, Vert Mooney focuses on how heat therapy helps with lower back pain but the explanations can be translated to cover other bodily aches as well. Vert Mooney states that “[h]eat therapy dilates the blood vessels of the muscles” and “[t]his process increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, helping to heal the damaged tissue”.
The Live Science Staff over at Live Science discovered that heat deactivates pain at a molecular level. They debunked the myth that heat just provides comfort and seemingly alleviates pain through a placebo effect. According to the staff, a heat receptor called TRPV1 can block P2X3 pain receptors.
For even more information on the positive benefits of heating pads, check out the the article Treating Pain with Heat, The Complete Guide by Paul Ingraham of Pain Science!
Do not worry if this all sounds confusing, continue to our heating pad reviews to see our picks for top rated heating pads!
The Sunbeam Xpressheat Heating Pad is one of the fastest heating pads on the market, providing healing and pain relief via heat within 30 seconds! Sunbeam boasts that this is 3 times faster than standard heating pads. This is great for people who are busy or just want to get warm or pain relief quickly (which should be everyone!).
The integrated microplush cover is extremely soft and is great for applying to any part of the body. Furthermore, cleaning is a breeze with the machine washable cover. Just make sure to dry it on medium or low setting to retain its fuzziness!
The cover does not shift around from use as it is integrated with the pad. No more burns from the cover slipping off and exposing the hot plastic component! In addition, this integration allows the the pad to retain its shape from continuous treatment.
The extra large size of the heating pad is versatile and convenient for covering larger areas like the spine or legs. The internal heating components spread the heat evenly so that the heating pad is effective at any position or angle (even the edges are the same temperature).
The Sunbeam XpressHeat heating pad comes with a digital LCD controller that features six heat settings to get the desired amount of heat. The digital LCD screen and physical buttons make choosing and switching between settings easy.
Furthermore, it has an auto-off feature that allows the user to have the heating pad shut off after two hours. On the other hand, the pad defaults to a continuous on mode that is great for extended use without having to fiddle with the controller every two hours.
This heating pad also comes with a moist heat option that is good for deep therapeutic therapy. A 9 feet long cord is included, which is very convenient for use all over the house. No more of those moments where you discover that the outlet you wish to use is too far from where you are!
The PureRelief XL - King Size Heating Pad is an excellent heating pad for full body relief. It is one of the best heating pads for joint pain. The manufacturer recommends a daily 20-minute session (or as recommended by your doctor) to increase blood flow and reduce pain and muscle spasms.
Its extra large 12” x 24” size is convenient for covering a large portion of the body. Long gone are the days where you have to move the heating pad around to treat different areas! The super-soft microplush offers maximum comfort for daily use.
Furthermore, it is machine washable so cleaning the pad is easy! When washing, make sure to not use bleach or a wringer. In addition, wash the heating pad in cold water and tumble dry on low heat to keep the softness.
The digital LCD controller allows switching between 6 temperature settings. These settings range from temperatures of around 105 degrees Fahrenheit to around 140. Moreover, the other side of the heating pad seems to be insulated so the heat is more focused for quicker alleviation.
This heating pad features fast-heating so that you can experience relief more quickly. Additionally, a moist heat option is available. To use this feature, apply a fine mist of water to the pad (do not soak it), place it on the area you want, and experience bliss as your worries (and pain) fades away!
Some heating pads begin heating up along the coils and then radiate out over time. However, this heating pad does not suffer from this issue. There is even and constant warmth throughout the pad.
The heating pad also has a an auto shut-off feature that turns itself off after 2 hours. This is perfect for those who are in a rush or fall asleep with the heating pad. This feature conserves energy and prevents burn by excessive heat exposure.
In addition to all of these great features, the manufacture is so confident that you will love this heating pad that they offer a five year warranty! Did I mention that a storage bag is also included? This is one of the top rated heating pads for good reason!
The Thermophore MaxHeat Deep-Heat Therapy heating pad is the best large heating pad on the market! Its enormous 14” x 27” size allows a large surface area to receive treatment at the same time. This is especially great for covering your entire back or legs. In fact, this is the best heating pad for back pain due to its size and numerous other characteristics that we will discuss.
This heating pad comes with a controller that allows the user to choose between three settings. The options are: low, medium, and high. For the quickest and most efficient sessions, turn the switch to high for a couple of minutes and then lower it to the desired temperature.
The upgraded version of this heating pad (the one that is linked) has a 20-minute automatic shutoff timer once the temperature reaches the desired setting. Previously, the user would have to hold a button until the desired temperature was reached so this is a great improvement!
The heating pad is insulated so when the automatic shut-off is triggered, the heat is retained and dissipate slowly. This feature is great for preventing over-usage and extending the life of the heating pad (and protecting your body!). Furthermore, there is a button that allows you to pause at the current temperature and follow the same dissipating cycle just mentioned.
The Thermophore MaxHeat Deep-Heat Therapy heating pad also features a moist heat option. A good way to utilize this method is to combine the heating pad with a damp towel. This system will provide a great warming effect that is excellent for pain relief or just warming up the body.
In addition, this heating pad comes with an extra long cord that is convenient for usability. Furthermore, cleaning is simple but make sure to follow the instructions so that you can get the most life out of the pad.
The PureRelief Neck & Shoulder Heating Pad is the best heating pad for shoulder aches and pains. Conventional (geometrical) heating pads are great for pain relief for your back, legs, and other body parts. However, their shapes and sizes are not effective at providing the same alleviation for your shoulders and necks.
Say “bye” to the days of not being able to treat your neck and shoulder pains efficiently! This heating pad is specially made to treat your neck and shoulders as gods. It is perfectly contoured to drape around your neck and shoulders area comfortably.
Furthermore, the entire heating pad is heated equally so that you will even experience relief on the sides of your neck (in addition to every other part of your neck and shoulders). We mention the sides specifically because other “neck and shoulders” heating pads on the market do not disperse the heat uniformly.
The heating pad is covered in extremely comfortable micromink fibers that feels fantastic around your neck area. Furthermore, the heating pad is machine washable so you can have a clean and refreshing experience for years to come (make sure to read the washing instructions for best results!).
The PureRelief Neck & Shoulder Heating Pad comes with four heat settings. These settings range from around 110 degrees Fahrenheit to around 140. The settings are color coded and displayed via an LED on the controller for quick communication. Having four settings provides more accessibility to users with different desires.
Like most other modern heating pads, this one comes with an automatic shut-off feature that helps conserve its life and protects the user from over exposure. This model comes with one that automatically shuts off after two hours.
The heating pad also comes with an extra long cord and a storage bag. The storage bag is convenient for transporting the heating pad when traveling. Additionally, the manufactures provides a five year warranty!
The Sunbeam Heating Pad with UltraHeat Technology is the best moist heating pad. This heating pad comes with a sponge that can dampened and inserted back into the heating pad before operation. Using the moist heat option helps ease pain and brings comfort more quickly.
This heating pad achieves its temperature setting quickly and then maintains consistent heat for maximum relief. There are three basic settings that can be chosen with a switch. The simplistic nature of the controller makes it easy for those who wish to use the pad without too much interaction.
The heating pad does not have an automatic shut-off timer. Before you dismiss this product completely, hear me out! Just as there are definite benefits to an automatic shut-off timer, there are also advantages to not having one.
For instance, this heating pad is great for continuous use without having to remember to turn it back on. Or even worse, finding out it was off from experiencing pain again. This no automatic shutdown feature could be a selling point!
Furthermore, many users purchase this heating pad for their pets. Not shutting off automatically is a plus for them as they can leave the pad on for their pets while they are out. To be honest, it seems that a lot of consumers purchase heating pads for pets and not themselves. Which is just heart-warming (haha) and fantastic to see!
Moreover, the heating pad is machine washable so you can clean it easily if it ever gets dirty. Also, remember to turn off the heating pad after use because it is not automatic. Some customers state that they often forget to turn the heating pad off because they are used to other heating pads with automatic shut-off features. On the contrary, this is one of the selling points of this product. This is the heating pad for you if you look are looking for constant treatment!
The Sunbeam Renue Heat Therapy Neck and Shoulder Wrap is the best heating pad for neck pain! This heating pad is designed to fit snuggly around your neck and shoulders and provide warmth and pain relief.
In addition to the perfect contouring, the edges are slightly weighted in order to keep the heating pad stable around your neck area. Furthermore, there is a magnetic clasp on the front that helps in securing the wrap in place.
The weight of the heating pad is not too heavy but it aids in helping the heat penetrate further for better treatment. Moreover, the heating pad is great for use on other body parts as well. The flexible nature of the material allows the heating pad to be versatile. It may not be the best when compared to traditional heating pads because if its size and shape but it’s practical as well.
This heating pad comes with four temperature settings that is controllable via a simple remote. It also comes with an automatic two hour shut-off timer as well that is perfect for a therapeutic session.
The Sunbeam Renue Heat Therapy Neck and Shoulder Wrap offers both dry and moist heat options. The heating pad defaults to the dry option for normal use. On the other hand, you can apply some water to the pad to experience the benefits of the moist option.
The heating pad contains a soft velveteen fabric that is very comfortable on the skin. The pad is machine washable so do not fret if there are any spills or accidents!
Plus, this heating pad comes with a long cord for convenience. No one wants to have to sit next to a wall just to use their heating pad! Also, the heat is spread evenly throughout the heating pad so every part of your neck and shoulders (or anywhere you wish to place the pad) will receive excellent treatment!
The Sunbeam Heating Pad plus Massage is the best heating pad that massages. This heating pad comes with a vibration mechanism that further aids in alleviating sore muscles and arthritis pain. The heat and massage functions are independent so you can either have just one of the options on or both. Or none, but that would defeat the purpose of having this product!
The soft cover provides a soothing warmth that is complimented by the vibration. Due to the massage feature, heat is only radiated out from one side. This could be an advantage because this means that the other side of the heating pad is not heated.
This allows the user to place the heating pad between their body and another surface. For instance, putting the heating pad between a chair and oneself. Most heating pads should not be used in such a manner (even though they still are) because it increases safety concerns.
While this feature does not mitigate all concerns, it is safer to place the pad between surfaces. Furthermore, the manufacturer places a label on the side that is correct for use to avoid any confusion!
Moreover, the thick nature of the pad’s design lessens the chance of it crinkling or rolling over on itself. Theses are common issues among other thinner heating pads and it usually causes the overlap or crinkled section to become hotter.
As previously mentioned, the heat and massage features are separate. This is reflected in the remote control that provides two separate switches for the functions. For both features, there are two settings: low and high. Additionally, this heating pad comes with a one hour shut-off timer.
The convenient features and unique massage aspect of this pad makes this one of the top heating pads on the market. Even more attractive, the cover is machine washable and snaps onto the inner component to prevent shifting.
We hope that our thoughts helped you find the best heating pad that fits your own criterias! Maybe you learned a thing or two you did not know about heating pads as well. Any of the heating pads featured in this article would make a great addition to your arsenal for combating cold and pain!
Remember to exercise caution when using a heating pad, especially when using it for an extended duration. Reading the instructions or manual could help prevent unnecessary harm or headaches. If there are any worries that are not addressed in those documents, contact the manufacturer or your doctor for advice!
While we stated some of the pros and cons of these particular heating pads, we understand that your opinions may differ and that is okay! If there is anything we missed or if there are insights you would like to share, feel free to leave us a comment!
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Growing up as a kid who played outside, Samantha enjoys an active lifestyle and emphasizes health as a key component to her life. She enjoys sharing her knowledge with others so that anybody can live a healthy life. On the weekends, you can find her hiking around Southern California!