Got Neck, Back and Shoulder Pain? How a Heating Pad can Help Alleviate Pain and the Best Ones Worth Trying

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.

Sunbeam notes that 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 as specialized heating pads that are now available to buy and use in your own home.

Heat therapy helps with pain, 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 best selections on the market, and then chose our top pick from the list.

Today, we’ll be looking at the following best heating pads:

What are Heating Pads?

The heating pad dates back to 1911. Earl Richardson is credited for creating the first electrical heating pad [1].

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 backache 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 – 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 is 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. 

Non- addictive – 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:

Electrical

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.

Electrical 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.

Infrared

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 for electricity, water, or batteries to heat the device.

Microwaveable

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. 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.

Heating Time

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 the neck, shoulders, or lower. These are usually shaped to fit the designated area of use like a wraparound shoulder pad or a belted heating bad meant for the lower back.

There are also multi-purpose options that can be used on any area of the body. 

Distinctive Features

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.

Buyer Protection

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 for pain relief

Now that you know the benefits of a heating pad, let’s check out some of the best options on the market today. Durability, price, effectiveness and customer feedback factored into our list.

1. Pure Enrichment PureRelief Heating Pad

Pure Enrichment PureRelief XL King Size Heating Pad (Charcoal Gray) - Fast-Heating Machine-Washable...
  • FULL BODY RELIEF: Extra-large 12" x 24" heating...
  • SUPER-SOFT MICROPLUSH: Thick microplush fibers...
  • FAST-HEATING: Heats in seconds to provide fast...

Pros:

  • Fast heating
  • Moist/dry heat therapy
  • 5- year warranty

Cons:

  • Not hot enough
  • May stop working after a few months

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 heat 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 which offers fast heating, and allows both moist and dry heat options; a good selection for first- time users.

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2. MIGHTY BLISS™ Large Electric Heating Pad

Sale
MIGHTY BLISSTM Large Electric Heating Pad for Back Pain and Cramps Relief -Extra Large [12"x24"] -...
  • PAIN & SORE MUSCLE RELIEF! YOU WILL LOVE THIS...
  • SUPER FAST HEATING PENETRATES HURTING MUSCLES AND...
  • SOFT MICROPLUSH FIBERS - EXTRA LARGE [12"x24"]...

Pros:

  • Lifetime replacement guarantee
  • Moist and dry options
  • Fast heating

Cons:

  • May have a hot spot
  • Minimal heat

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 heat 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.

See Prices >


3. Sunbeam Heating Pad for Neck & Shoulder

Sunbeam Heating Pad for Neck & Shoulder Pain Relief | Standard Size Renue, 4 Heat Settings with...
  • GET SOOTHING HEAT THERAPY WHERE YOU NEED IT:...
  • MAGNETIC CLASP KEEPS PAD IN PLACE: Magnetic clasp...
  • SUPER-SOFT MICROPLUSH: Makes the heat feel even...

Pros:

  • Specifically designed for neck and shoulder
  • Customizable heat setting
  • 2- hour auto-shutoff

Cons:

  • Too small for most people
  • Chemical smell

This brightly coloured heating pad offers 55 watts of power and is tailored to provide neck and shoulder relief. 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. 

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4. Natural Relief Digital Moist Heating Pad with Coral Sand

Sale
Natural Relief Extra Large Digital Moist Heating Pad with Coral Sand - Auto Shut Off - Strap -...
  • THERAPEUTIC AUTOMATIC MOIST HEAT Moist heat...
  • NO WATER NEEDED Automatically draws moisture from...
  • MAXIMUM COVERAGE AND STRAP : A Luxurious 27" x...

Pros:

  • Comes with Velcro strap
  • Negative ion emission
  • FDA approved

Cons:

  • Control panel issues
  • Only offers moist heat option
  • Pricey

This heating pad only offers a moist heat option; drawing moisture from the air so there is no water needed to operate the device.

Filled with coral sand it is designed to relax your body with the comforting coral sand weights, and soothe your mind – thanks to the emission of negative ions.

This pad from Natural Relief has an easy-to-read LED display which lets you set the appropriate temperature ranging from 113 °F up to 167°F and offers treatment times ranging from 15-60 minutes. The device automatically shuts off after completion of treatment time.

Designed for use on multiple parts of your body to include your back, knees, shoulder and abdomen, it comes with a Velcro strap to keep the pad strapped to any area if the body.

This pad is pricier than other selections on the list, and some users had issues with the control panel. However, this heating pad is FDA approved and soothes the mind and body, a worthy pick with holistic benefits.  

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5. BodyMed Digital Moist Heating Pad

Sale
BodyMed Digital Moist Heating Pad with Auto Shut Off Heating Pad for Neck and Shoulders, Back Pain...
  • THERAPEUTIC WARMTH. This heat pad provides...
  • WATER NOT REQUIRED. This moist heating pad...
  • EASY TO USE. This heating pad has user-friendly...

Pros:

  • 3 sizes to choose from
  • User-friendly LCD controls
  • Lockout feature

Cons:

  • Pricy
  • Doesn’t provide enough moisture

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.

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6. Huggaroo Microwavable Heating Pad

Heating Pad Microwavable by Huggaroo | Hot/Cool Neck Wrap with Aromatherapy | Moist Heat Pad |...
  • Delivers deep, penetrating heat wherever applied....
  • Perfectly balanced, it hugs your neck and stays in...
  • Use for back pain relief, headache relief,...

Pros:

  • Aromatherapy relief
  • Moderately priced
  • Heat therapy plus cold pack

Cons:

  • Doesn’t retain heat
  • Seams rip easily

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.

Huggaroo Microwavable Neck and Shoulder Wrap with Herbal Aromatherapy

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.

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7. Anbber Heating Pad

Heating Pad, Ultra-Large Heating Pads for Back Pain Auto Shut Off, Fast Heating Technology, Six Heat...
  • Easy to use with 2-hour auto-shutoff feature:...
  • Relieve your pain: Dry or Moist heat therapy...
  • Full body relief: 34" x 17" - Large size. Use the...

Pros:

  • Lifetime warranty
  • 6 personalized heat settings
  • Breathable fabric

 Cons:

  • May overheat
  • Controller may malfunction

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 pain, as well as back and spinal 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.

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8. ARRIS Lower Back Heating Pad

ARRIS Lower Back Heating Pad/Heating Waist Belt Wrap w/7.4V Rechargeable Battery Far Infrared Heat...
  • 【Waist Wrap Design】- Adjustable wearable back...
  • 【5-Level Heating Controller】- Red+Green...
  • 【Widely Application】- You can use this...

Pros:

  • Built-in thermal protection module
  • Uses FAR infrared
  • 5 heat levels

Cons:

  • Battery requires hours of charging
  • Comes in only 1 size
  • Short battery life

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.

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9. Venture Heat Far Infrared Heating Pad

Sale
36" x 24" XXL Venture Heat Far Infrared Heating Pad for Pain Relief - Drug Free FDA Registered...
  • WARMTH OF THE SUN: Our ultra large pad uses...
  • SPEED UP RECOVERY: Our entirely drug free pain...
  • 3 HEAT SETTINGS: Simply press the digital heat...

Pros:

  • FDA registered
  • Travel-friendly
  • Hypoallergenic fleece

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Issues with on/off button
  • Takes long to heat up

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 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. 

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10. Sunbeam Heating Pad

Sale
Sunbeam Heating Pad for Fast Pain Relief | XL King XpressHeat, 6 Heat Settings with Auto-Shutoff |...
  • SOOTHE ACHES WITH FAST HEAT THERAPY XpressHeat...
  • EASY TO USE WITH CONVENIENT FEATURES Easy to...
  • SOFT AND EASY-CARE Easy care, machine-washable...

Pros:

  • Heats up in 30 seconds
  • 5-year limited warranty
  • 3 sizes

Cons:

  • Controller may melt
  • Not enough heat

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.

Sunbeam® XpressHeat™ Heating Pad

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.

See Prices >


Our Pick: Sunbeam Heating Pad

Sunbeam Heating Pad for Neck & Shoulder Pain Relief | Standard Size Renue, 4 Heat Settings with...
  • GET SOOTHING HEAT THERAPY WHERE YOU NEED IT:...
  • MAGNETIC CLASP KEEPS PAD IN PLACE: Magnetic clasp...
  • SUPER-SOFT MICROPLUSH: Makes the heat feel even...

With over 10 thousand reviews online, it’s no surprise that this heating pad by Sunbeam takes the top spot.

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.

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.  

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