Wellness > Health

6 Best Heating Pads for Back and Neck Pain, According to Experts

Explore the Best Heating Pads that are an effective form of treatment for muscle pains and aches, muscle soreness and stiffness, and menstrual cramps as they work by increasing blood supply to the body.

RedlightTherapyDigest Staff By RLTD Staff Updated March 21, 2024
Medically reviewed Medically reviewed by: Michele S. Green, MD
Advertising Disclosure: Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; we may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links. You can learn more about our review process here.

Overview

People have been looking for solutions to address different kinds of body pains. Thermotherapy, which includes the use of heating pads, is an effective way to help relieve different types of pain like menstrual pains, arthritis pains, and other body pains.

Renowned Physiotherapist, Dr. Ian Gilham supports that heat therapy is primarily used to relieve joint and muscle pains, cramping, and muscle stiffness. He further supports that heat therapy works by increasing blood circulation in the body to alleviate pain and discomfort.

This article helps you understand the key details you need to know about the best neck heating pads, best shoulder heating pads, and more. In precise, it provides you with all the information on the best heating pads available on the market today.

What is a Heating Pad?

A heating pad is a device specifically designed to warm the body and manage certain types of pain. Applying a heating pad on certain parts of the body may help ease joint and muscle pain, arthritis, and period pains.

Heat therapy or thermotherapy causes blood vessels to dilate and this increases blood flow to different body parts. Increased blood flow eases certain pains and inflammation.

According to research published in the Experimental Research Journal by Faith Pizzey, thermotherapy is effective in improving vascular functions by improving blood pressure levels in the body to support pain management.

Natasha Trentacosta, M.D., says that heat therapy is effective in reducing pain and inflammation and encouraging muscle healing. She explains that when muscles stiffen, there is constricted blood flow in the body. Heat therapy helps ease muscle stiffness by increasing blood flow in the body.

The Best Heating Pads of 2023

How We Picked

Science and Evidence

Science and Evidence

We recommend and select products that have clinical trials and scientific research to support their safety and efficacy. This is important because our customers get to use products that have been researched and tested to ensure they reap the maximum benefits of the products.

Trusted Manufacturers

Trusted Manufacturers

All the heating pads we selected for you are from trusted and well-regarded manufacturers, who have a reputation for making high-quality products, which deliver upon their promises. We recommend buying products from trusted manufacturers because the products do come with clear warranties and return policies for the clients.

Cost Benefit

Cost Benefit

Since we know that we have different customers with different budget types, we selected a wide variety of products with varied price ranges to suit every budget type. Additionally, we ensure that each product delivers optimum results regardless of the price.

Expert Recommended

Expert Recommended

Experts, professionals in the field, and our team members approve the best-rated heating pads that we have for you.

Our Choices for the Best Heating Pads of 2023

Our team, which includes experienced board-certified healthcare professionals, went to great lengths to rigorously evaluate the heating pads on the market. After careful consideration, we’ve handpicked the best heating pads for pain relief available today.

purerelief heating pad

1. PureRelief Heating Pad

Best For: Sore muscles, backaches, joint pain, stiffness, muscle spasms, arthritis pain

Features: 6 heat settings from 105-140°F, extra-long 9-foot cord, automatic 2-hour shut off, machine washable micro plush fabric.

Price: $34.99

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The PureRelief Heating Pad provides temporary relief for backaches, sore muscles, joint pain, and more. With 6 heat settings from 105-140°F, it gently warms the back, shoulders, abdomen, or other areas. Its extra-long 9-foot cord and automatic 2-hour shut-off make it easy to relax anywhere. Machine washable micro plush fabric feels soft on the skin. PureRelief Heating Pad uses therapeutic heat therapy to temporarily relieve discomfort from common aches and pains.


Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Large size covers most problem areas
  • Adjustable heat settings for customized relief
  • Auto shut-off for safety
  • Soft, the comfortable fabric feels good on skin
  • Affordable price point

Cons

  • Cord could be longer for fully reclined use
  • May need to reheat pad after an hour for ongoing pain

More to Know

Target Areas: Back, shoulders, abdomen, legs, and other large muscle groups | LED Lights: InstaHeat Technology | Benefits: May temporarily relieve backaches, sore muscles, joint pain, stiffness, and muscle spasms | Session Duration: Heating pad automatically shuts off after 2 hours of continuous use

There are positive reviews on Amazon, users rate it 4 out of 5 stars. User Karen gives it 5 stars and explains:

I had a pure enrichment heating pad that just gave me an error and I realized my cord had been damaged. I loved this heating pad so went on Amazon and ordered a new one just like it. I was impressed that I received the item the very same day so I was never without a heating pad. Love the fact that it covers my entire back so no need to move it around

sunbeam heating pad

2. Sunbeam Heating Pad

Best For: Muscle aches, joint pain, arthritis pain, muscle tension, stress

Features: Extra-large 12″ x 24″ size, 4 heat settings, arthritis-friendly controller, auto-shutoff, 9-foot cord.

Price: $22.88

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The Sunbeam King-Size Heating Pad provides soothing heat therapy with its extra-large size and adjustable heat settings, targeting sore muscles for pain relief and relaxation. Its arthritis-friendly controller and features like auto-shutoff add convenience. The customer reviews reported effective pain relief, customizable heat levels, and comfortable fabric. Heating up quickly and maintaining an even temperature.


Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Large size covers more areas
  • Adjustable heat levels
  • Auto-shutoff for safety
  • Soft, comfortable fabric
  • Arthritis-friendly controller

Cons

  • Cord could be longer
  • May need re-heating after a while

More to Know

Target Areas: Back, shoulders, hips, legs, arms | LED Lights: 120 Volts, 50 Watts | Benefits: Increases blood flow, relaxes muscles, reduces inflammation | Session Duration: 15-20 minutes as needed for temporary relief Comfytemp Heating Pad

There are positive reviews on Amazon, users Lauren1 gives it 4.2 stars and explains:

I receive my heat pad a week ago. I like it a lot. It’s very light and gradually heats, not sudden heat, I like that because I don’t get hot so quickly. When it is at the set temperature it regulates and then slowly shuts off when it’s been two hours. I like the deep pocket, the pad does slide off the case. Very nice material it can be stored anywhere nicely.

geniani heating pad

3. Geniani Heating Pad

Best For: Back pain, sore muscles, joints, cramps

Features: Adjustable heat settings, an extra-large size, ultra-soft micro plush, machine washable, heats quickly, overheat protection

Price: $29.97

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The Geniani heating pad delivers targeted heat therapy with adjustable settings and a large size to ease back pain, cramps, and sore muscles. Made with ultra-soft micro plush for comfort and flexibility, it heats up fast and provides safety features like auto-shutoff and overheat protection for convenient relief. Customer Reviews report quick heating, effective pain relief, soft material, and ease of use. Maintains an even temperature well.


Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Adjustable heat levels
  • Large size for full body areas
  • Incredibly soft material
  • Quick heating
  • Overheat protection

Cons

  • Cord could be longer
  • May need re-heating after a while

More to Know

Target Areas: Back, neck, shoulders, hips, legs | LED Lights: 100-120 Volts, 85 Watts | Benefits: Increases blood flow, relaxes muscles, reduces inflammation | Session Duration: 15-30 minutes as needed for temporary relief

There are positive reviews on Amazon, users Amy gives it 4.0 stars and explains:

I adore this heating pad, especially because it’s generously sized. It covers both the front and back of my shoulder, right where I’m experiencing pain. The best part is that it’s super soft, unlike my previous one which had a rigid plastic interior. Plus, it comes with the convenience of an automatic shut-off feature and multiple heat settings, making it even more fantastic.

comfytemp heating pad

4. Comfytemp Heating Pad

Best For: Full body relief from muscle tension and soreness

Features: 3 heat settings, 2-hour auto-off, stay-on function, soft flannel material, evenly distributed glass beads for pressure

Price: $34.99

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This 17×30-inch electric heating pad is designed to relax the full body with consistent heat therapy. It contains 3.7 pounds of glass beads evenly distributed within to apply soothing pressure to areas like legs, arms, neck, shoulders, and back. The pad has three temperature settings and an auto shut-off after two hours for safety. It also has a stay-on function for continuous heat. Made from soft, machine-washable flannel, this pad is comfortable and easy to use for muscle relief.


Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Provides heat and pressure therapy
  • 3 heat levels
  • Auto-shutoff
  • Stay-on function
  • Soft material, full body coverage

Cons

  • Beads may shift over time
  • Large size could be inconvenient for some uses

More to Know

Target Areas: Back, legs, arms, neck, shoulders | LED Lights: 3 Heat Levels | Benefits: Relaxes muscles, improves blood flow, relieves tension and soreness | Session Duration: Heat cycles on for 2 hours then auto-shuts off

There are positive reviews on Amazon, users Lory J gives it 4.3 stars and explains:

This weighted wrapping heat pad is a very good product. I have shoulder pain and it is long neouch to drape over my shoulder covering the joint from front to back with good soothing warmth. The auto shut-off is a great feature, if you are using this while resting in bed for the night.

utk heat pad

5. UTK Heat Pad

Best For: Back, neck, shoulder, lumbar, and knee pain relief

Features: Weighted design, jade, and tourmaline beads, fast heating up to 159 degrees, adjustable temperature settings, 2-hour auto-off, ultra-soft velvet material

Price: $59.99

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This 12″X24″ electric heating pad from UTK is designed to target back, neck, shoulder, lumbar, and knee areas for pain relief. Filled with jade and tourmaline beads, it heats up quickly and concentrates heat effectively. The velvet material and weighted design keep it in place for therapy. It features adjustable temperature settings from 104-159 degrees F and auto-shuts off after 2 hours for safety.


Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Targeted heat therapy
  • Fast heating
  • Adjustable temperature
  • Auto-shutoff
  • Soothing materials, portability

Cons

  • Small size limits coverage areas
  • Beads may shift over extended use

More to Know

Target Areas: Back, neck, shoulders, lower back, knees | LED Lights: 75 Watts, 110~120 Voltage | Benefits: Relaxes muscles, improves blood flow, relieves pain | Session Duration: Heat cycles on for 2 hours then auto-shuts off

There are positive reviews on Amazon, users Rose M gives it 4.5 stars and explains:

I’ve been dealing with chronic lower back pain and this heating pad has provided much needed relief. The jade and tourmaline beads feel soothing on my sore muscles. I like being able to adjust the temperature and time settings. It’s also nice that the weighted design means I don’t have to hold it in place.

thermacare heating pad

6. ThermaCare Heating Pad

Best For: Back and neck pain relief

Features: Air-activated heating pads, up to 16 hours of heat therapy, thin and discreet design, targeted heat cell placement, drug-free pain relief

Price: $37.38 (pack of 10 wraps)

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The ThermaCare Back Pain Therapy heatwraps provide up to 16 hours of drug-free pain relief for backs and necks. The thin, discreet wraps contain air-activated heating cells that conform to body movements and target pain areas. They deliver deep penetrating heat to soothe tight muscles and relax soreness while being portable for use anywhere. Each wrap heats up within minutes and continues relieving pain for hours after removal.


Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Up to 16 hours of heat therapy
  • Discreet design
  • Targeted heat placement
  • Portable
  • Drug-free pain relief

Cons

  • Individual wraps have a limited shelf life once activated
  • Wrapping can be difficult for some users

More to Know

Target Areas: Lower back, hips, neck | LED Lights: 75 Watts, 110~120 Voltage | Benefits: Relaxes muscles, improves circulation, reduces inflammation, blocks pain signals | Session Duration: Up to 8 hours of heat while worn, additional 8 hours of pain relief after removal

There are positive reviews on Amazon, users Julie K gives it 4.8 stars and explains:

I bought these and was a little skeptical about them. I have to say that they work very well and relieve the pan for nearly 8 hours. They aren’t noticeably hot (at least on my back/hips) and I like the fact that they wrap around your entire body as they stay in place very well. Highly recommend.

How Do Heating Pads Work?

Heat therapy works to relieve pain and discomfort associated with joint and muscle pains, menstrual cramps, and chronic illnesses like arthritis. Besides, heating pads may also work to warm up animals like cats and dogs to prevent certain illnesses.

Thermotherapy makes blood vessels dilate, which consequently helps increase blood flow to body parts. Now, in our content for Red Light Therapy for Blood Flow, we noted that increased blood flow in the body allows for nutrients and oxygen to be distributed in the body. This helps to enhance healing, reduce pain and muscle stiffness, and improve mobility.

A publication in the Life Journal by Jurgen Freiwald reveals that heat therapy has been used for many years to relieve pain and improve overall health. It further reveals that it works by improving blood circulation in order to relieve pain.

That is, the use of heat therapy, is not new, some people use hot water bottles, electric heating pads, and microwavable heating pads. A study in the Journal of Physical Therapy in Sport discusses how heat and cold therapies can ease muscle pain.

Key Factors to Consider When Selecting Heating Pads?

  • Multiple Heat Settings
    We selected the best heating pad for shoulder pain, the best massaging heating pad, and the best heating pad for back pain, which had multiple heat settings. This allows the customer to select the heat that he/she is most comfortable with.
  • Heat-up Speed
    We selected heating pads with material that can be easily heated up. Most electric heating pads heat up fast when connected to the power supply.
  • Automatic Shutoff Timer
    We recommend using the best heating pad for back, the best heating pad for neck and shoulder pain, and the best menstrual heating pad, which has automatic shutoff timers. These are safer because they prevent burns, which often occur after prolonged use.
  • Washing and Maintenance
    We only selected Heating pads, which are easy to clean and maintain. This should give the customer an easier time to clean after using the device. Manufacturers include cleaning and maintenance instructions in the manual.
  • Electric vs. non–electric
    We picked both electric and microwavable heating pads to suit different needs. You need to know which device you will be more comfortable using before you make a purchase.

What Specific Benefits Does a Heating Pads Offer?

1. Relieve Body Aches and Pains

The application of heat therapy via the use of a heating pad may help relieve different kinds of body pains, including lower back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, and leg pain. A review in the Journal of Postgraduate Medicine by Gerard Malanga supports that the use of topical heat, including heat wraps may temporarily reduce pain in different body parts, including the lower back.

2. Relieve Menstrual Cramps

Heat therapy is very useful to women who experience severe menstrual cramps. The best heating pad for menstrual cramps may help reduce the severity of the pain. A systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Scientific Reports Journal concluded that heat therapy is an effective form of treatment in women who get menstrual pain.

3. Reduce Muscle Stiffness

The use of heat therapy is helpful because it works to loosen and stretch tight muscles. This helps eliminate muscle and joint soreness, pains, and stiffness. According to the Journal of Pain Research by Giuseppe Ventriglia thermotherapy has proven to be effective in the treatment of musculoskeletal pains as it reduces muscle spasms, reduces muscle stiffness, and improves motion.

4. Improve Blood Circulation

When muscles tighten, they may constrict the blood vessels causing poor blood supply to other body parts. Using a heating pad may help dilate the blood vessels to increase blood flow to different body parts allowing cells to heal. A publication in the American Journal of Physiology by Dustin Neff et al supports that thermotherapy increases blood circulation and flow in patients with peripheral artery disease.

5. Warming Kittens

People who keep pets are home may also benefit from using heating pads. A heating pad may help keep the kittens warm and reduce the risk of them getting Hypothermia. In one of the research projects done by Eri Onozawa and published in the Animals Journal, insulation devices like heat wraps and heating pads are used to keep cats and dogs warm and prevent hypothermia.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Heating Pads Work?

How Frequent Should You Use a Heating Pad?

A: Heating pads are portable and convenient devices that provide pain relief in the comfort of your home at any time. According to Dr. Martin Schmaltz, one should apply the heating pad for approximately 15 minutes on the affected area. You can then remove it for an hour before wearing it again. 2-3 treatment sessions are advisable. Natasha Trentacosta, MD also agrees that wearing a heating pad for 10-30 minutes will be effective. Using a heating pad for longer may result in burns.

Are Heating Pads Safe?

A: Heating pads are considered safe to use on the skin as long as you follow the safety instructions that come with them. Most experts advise using the best moist heating pad and the best electric heating pads while avoiding dry heating pads. To increase your safety when using a heating pad, ensure you do not sleep while using the heating pad. Always check for cracks on the heating pads to avoid the risk of electrocution. Additionally, avoid wearing the heating pad for too long or on broken skin to prevent burns. There are many safety precautions that you should check on while using heating pads.

Do Heating Pads Cause Side Effects?

A: Most heating pads are considered safe and do not pose any side effects when used correctly. However, some people may experience mild dizziness or headaches after using a heating pad because it may decrease blood pressure levels. Others may have increased heart rate after a treatment session. Using a heating pad after physical therapy may cause swelling and inflammation. It is advisable that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using a heating pad to avoid some side effects.

Conclusion

There are times when you might need the help of ice or heat to reduce body pains and enhance body healing and recovery from muscle pains and soreness. Applying heat to the body via a heating pad may help reduce pains associated with certain conditions like arthritis and menstrual cramps.

Heating pads do help improve blood circulation through the body to help relieve these body pains and aches. However, there are some safety and health considerations to take to ensure you do not make the pain worse. For effective results, you should use the heating pad as directed by the manufacturer.

By Michele S. Green, MD

Michele S. Green, MD is a world-renowned cosmetic dermatologist based in the Upper East Side of NYC.

**This is a subjective assessment based on the strength of the available information and our estimation of efficacy.

*Result may vary. The information contained in this website is provided for general informational purposes only. No medical claims are implied in this content, and the information herein is not intended be used for self diagnosis or self treatment of any condition.

Disclosure of Material connection: Some of the links in the post above are "associate sales links." This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, we will receive commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services which we use personally and/or believe will add value to our readers. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials."

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