Three best heating pads

Kailey Fralick

Pregnant women should avoid using heating pads on their abdomen or using one for extended periods of time. It could raise body temperature above 102.2°F, which may increase the risk of birth defects.

When you have aches and pains, a heating pad can be a welcome source of relief without resorting to pain medication. It encourages blood flow, which helps to speed up the healing process, and it stretches out stiff, sore muscles. Some people mistakenly assume that one heating pad works as well as the next, but this isn't true. The right heating pad for you depends on several factors, including what kind of pain you have and how often you plan to use the pad. Here's a guide to help you choose your perfect heating pad.

Considerations when choosing heating pads

Heating pads are available in a few varieties. Electric heating pads are the most common. You plug them into the wall and they heat up. Most models have built-in temperature controls, so you can decide exactly how much heat you want. Some also have sponges that you can soak and add to the heating pad for moist heat.

Microwavable heating pads contain thermal microbeads or natural ingredients that hold heat well for extended periods of time. You simply heat the pad in the microwave for a minute or two and then apply the pad to the affected area. This type of pad is more affordable and portable than an electric heating pad, but its heat doesn't penetrate as deeply into skin.

Chemical heating pads work by a chemical reaction. Some of these pads adhere to your skin, so you don't need to hold them in place. However, you can't choose a particular temperature, and these pads can only be used once. If you plan to use your heating pad regularly, chemical heating pads will soon get expensive.

Heating pad features

Size: The size you need will be determined by where you plan to use it. It's better to go too large than too small because you never know what you might need to use it for in the future.

Controls: Electric heating pads give you control of the temperature. Some only have a few settings, while high-end models have more precise temperature controls

Auto-shutoff: This safety feature automatically shuts off the heating pad after a certain amount of time to prevent overheating.

Cord length: An electric heating pad should have a long cord, so you don't need to sit right next to an outlet in order to use it.

Heating pad prices: You can find a microwavable heating pad for $20 or less. Chemical heating pads are available in packs, with most costing around $25. Electric heating pads vary in price depending on the size of the pad and the features it includes. A small pad may only cost $20, while a high-end one could cost as much as $60.


Q. Are heating pads safe?

A. Yes, as long as you follow the manufacturer's instructions. It's generally not a smart idea to use a heating pad for longer than the recommended time or to sleep with a heating pad unless it has an auto-shutoff feature to prevent overheating. If you notice any burning, melting, or frayed wires, stop using the heating pad immediately.

Q. What are the benefits of using moist heat?

A. Moist heat is popular because it can penetrate more deeply into the skin, thus helping to relieve pain more effectively. Some also find that dry heat dehydrates the skin, so introducing more moisture can help prevent this problem.

Heating pads we recommend

Best of the best: Chattanooga Theratherm Digital Moist Heating Pad

Our take: This powerful heating pad reaches deep below the skin's surface to calm muscle pain and inflammation within minutes.

What we like: Flannel cover extracts moisture from the air and delivers it onto your skin when the pad is heated. You can set your preferred temperature and choose a duration up to 60 minutes.

What we dislike: Some reports that pad stops heating after several months.

Best bang for your buck: Sunbeam XpressHeat Heating Pad

Our take: This large heating pad may not be as well made as our top pick, but it's still a great value compared to others in this price range.

What we like: Pad heats within 30 seconds. Two-hour auto-shutoff helps prevent overheating. Six heat settings. Included sponge, so you can switch to moist heat.

What we dislike: A few problems with temperature control panel melting.

Choice 3: Thermalon Microwave Activated Moist Heat Pad

Our take: Smart alternative to our other picks for those who want a portable heating pad that doesn't require an outlet.

What we like: Delivers steady, consistent, moist heat for up to 30 minutes. Safe, portable, and can be washed in the washing machine.

What we dislike: Be careful with this heating pad. Some users have had problems with the cover tearing and beads leaking out.

Kailey Fralick is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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